I’ve felt a little like Epaphras this week, but just a little. I need to be a whole lot more like Epaphras, honestly.
Do you remember Epaphras? He’s the guy who started the church at Colosse. But I remember him most for what Paul says about him in one tiny verse, such a tiny reference that you could almost miss it:
“Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God” (Colossians 4:12, ESV).
My hero, Epaphras, was “always struggling” in prayer on someone else’s behalf, Paul says. Other Bible translations say he was continually “wrestling” (NIV), “laboring earnestly” (NASB), “contending” (HCSB), “striving” (ASV), or praying “intensely” (GWT).
The Greek word for what Epaphras was always doing is “agónizomai,” from which we get our English word, “agonize.” Strong’s Concordance says it means “I am struggling, striving (as in an athletic contest or warfare); I contend, as with an adversary.”
Now, I readily admit that I have a long way to go toward being an Epaphras. In spiritual warfare, I’m a long way away from a black belt. But I have stepped up the intensity of some of my intercessions this week. There are several situations, large and small, that have pressed urgently onto my radar. God has revealed to me enemy schemes of deception, hopelessness, intimidation, powerlessness, and more. These types of situations call for a fight.
It’s interesting what Epaphras strove for. He didn’t ask God to give his friends relief from difficult circumstances. No—he prayed that his Christians friends would “stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.” And isn’t that what we all need when the enemy comes against us? To be mature in everything that Jesus has taught and modeled for us? And to be fully assured—not doubting in the slightest—that we are smack-dab in the center of God’s will?
God has strongly reminded me recently that we are in a battle. The powers of darkness are advancing—but the One who is in us is greater than all that darkness. We can win the fight—but we do have to fight. Not with human weapons and strategies, but with prayer—Epaphras-style prayer.
I want to get better at this. Are there any Epaphras’s out there? I’m listening . . .