'Labouring fervently for you in prayers'


“Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis.” Colossians 4:12-13 (Read Colossians 4:7-14)

Within the greetings of fellow believers shared by the Apostle Paul is the greeting of Epaphras, a believer from Colosse who came to visit Paul in prison and who was a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Not only did Epaphras send greetings to his fellow believers, he prayed for them. Paul said to the Colossians that Epaphras was “always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis.”

Epaphras’ prayers for the church at Colosse, as well as those in Laodicea and Hierapolis, were not brief, passing addendums. He labored fervently in prayer for them. He was continually wrestling with God and imploring God’s mercy and grace upon his fellow believers that they would not turn away from the truth and fall from saving faith in Christ Jesus but stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. He prayed that they would be brought to spiritual maturity and be filled up in all things pertaining to God’s will.

His prayer is similar to the desire of the apostle Paul for the believers at Ephesus, recorded for us in his letter, Ephesians 4:11-16: “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”

The prayers of Epaphras and of the apostle Paul reveal to us God’s will for us as believers – that we grow up into Jesus Christ and heed His leading voice recorded for us in the Scriptures, that we no longer be carried this way and that with every wind of doctrine but hold fast to Christ and His Word.

The prayers of Epaphras and the apostle are also an example to us for our prayers. Even when, for one reason or another, we are prevented from speaking to someone of the truth, we can labor fervently for them in our prayers.

Have we loved ones or children in this world who have been brought to Christ by the “washing of water by the Word” and introduced to their Savior through the teaching of the Holy Scriptures? Are they struggling with temptations from within and without? Lift them up in prayer, pleading with the Lord God to have mercy upon their souls and keep them from the evil one and the many dangerous and misleading lies of false teachers in the world. Pray that God would graciously restore the fallen and keep all of them in His protective hand and bring them safely through this evil world to Himself in heaven. Labor fervently in prayer that they might grow up into Christ Jesus, trust in Him alone and in His mercy for salvation, and “stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.”

This is my prayer for my children, grandchildren and for all those I know and love in this world. Let it be your prayer too.

And, when we remember that it is only by the grace and mercy of God that any of us have been brought to know Christ and to trust in His life, death and resurrection for our salvation, certainly we must admit that it is only by the gracious working of God that anyone for whom we pray can be brought to faith in Christ Jesus, be preserved in that faith, and be brought safely into heaven!

O Lord God, heavenly Father, have mercy upon us for the sake of Your Son, Christ Jesus, and His innocent sufferings and death in our stead. Graciously keep us in the faith until we reign with our risen Savior in heaven. And, dearest Lord Jesus, have mercy upon our children and grandchildren and all our loved ones. Graciously cause them to hear Your Word, trust in You for forgiveness and life, be preserved from the false and pernicious doctrines of the devil, and be kept in the one true and saving faith unto life everlasting. Amen.

[Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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