. . . Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf . . . (Col 1: 7, NIV)
Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those in Laodicea and and Hierapolis (Col 4:12-13).
Epaphras was a member of the early Church, likely of the congregation in Colossae. He travelled and ministered with the apostle Paul for a time, and at some point was imprisoned with him. Paul vouched for Epaphras and warmly endorsed his ministry, which means the Holy Spirit approved him as well. Epaphras was “a faithful minister of Christ.” He was commissioned and anointed by Christ, and in Spirit and truth he ministered Christ to those for whom he laboured.
What was the ministry of Epaphras? One notable part of it, that which Paul specifically commended, was frequent, fervent prayer for God’s people, in order that they would “stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.”
The early Church, blessed though it was in having eyewitness knowledge of Christ, the fresh, mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and the presence and teaching of the very apostles themselves, could not flourish and advance without continuing, edifying prayer. Surely such prayer is no less crucial for the modern Church. Christians today face challenges, dangers and obstacles of every sort. Perilous times are upon us. One doesn’t have to look very far to see weakness, sin, compromise and even apostasy affecting the Church. Many in the Kingdom seem to be half-hearted, struggling, lacking the fire of the Holy Spirit and passion for Christ. There is great need everywhere, including in this believer’s life.
But the purpose of this blog is not to expose, lament or complain about the condition of the Church or any of its members. There is no shortage of venues and opportunities elsewhere for doing such things. Recognizing simply that the Church has both great needs and a great calling to rise up and fulfill, this blog’s purpose is to encourage faithful, effectual, fervent prayer for God’s people. Such prayer is very pleasing to God and will yield eternal fruit for his glory.
The Word of God abounds with teaching on this vital theme. The Lord invites us to mine these riches, growing in grace and understanding, and seeking ever-greater victory and blessing in the lives of those he loves.
The Lord is calling out, inviting all who will hear to draw near to him and to pray steadfastly and effectually for his people, according to his will, as clearly revealed in his Word. This is an essential ministry, a fruitful ministry, a mighty ministry!
Questions, comments, testimonies and exhortations are welcome. Please be mindful that this space is dedicated to edification. The Lord promised to build his Church, and all who belong to him are called to be builders together with him. Let us therefore build one another up in Christ, motivating one another “toward love and good deeds.” Like Epaphras, may we be faithful ministers of Christ who labour diligently in prayer for our fellow believers, so that they may fulfill his will and be ready to meet him with joyful assurance. Great delight awaits those who undertake such ministry.