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. Colossians 4:12 (NIV)
Prayer can sometimes flow easily. At other times it can seem as if the words will hardly come and prayer is a struggle.
In the verse from Colossians Paul uses the word ‘wrestling’ to describe Epaphras’ prayers for the church at Colossae. I’m sure that even Epaphras had times when he found prayer difficult, but that is not what is being conveyed here.
The Greek word Paul uses conveys several meanings:
- struggle – to compete for a prize;
- contend – fight with an adversary;
- endeavour – seeking to accomplish something.
Each of these gives a richness to the word translated as ‘wrestling’ in the NIV. The prize Epaphras was competing for was that the church at Colossae would stand firm against the opposition and persecution they faced. The adversary he contended with is Satan, who would be seeking to distract the believers away from their faith. Epaphras also knew prayer was needed that the members of the church would be mature and fully assured in their faith. In other words, Epaphras would be praying that the believers at Colossae would be strong in their faith. He knew also that praying for someone once was not enough and that prayer needed to be continual.
Wrestling in prayer isn’t for the faint hearted. It involves time and commitment. Most of all it involves discipline. However, it isn’t just for those that might be described as ‘prayer warriors’. Every Christian can wrestle in prayer for those they love to come to Christ and for those in Christ to grow in their faith.