I was reading through Colossians this morning when an unexpected passage hit me between the eyes. The amazing thing about the following passage is that it is found in the closing section of the book, the part I tend to skim rather than read because Paul wrote about a bunch of people I don’t know. Like the genealogies it can feel rather boring.
The passage I am referring to is Colossians 4:12-13. This is what Paul wrote:
“Epaphras, a member of your own fellowship and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends you his greetings. He always prays earnestly for you, asking God to make you strong and perfect, fully confident that you are following the whole will of God. I can assure you that he prays hard for you and also for the believers in Laodicea and Hierapolis” (NLT).
Here is the question that popped into my mind after I read those two verses; “How hard do I prayer for people?”
I can prayer desperately for myself and the circumstances that I am facing, but I fear my prayers are rather different for those around me. I believe that one of the reason so many church families lack growth is because their members have not prayed for them. Maybe the reason the people in my life struggle with broken hearts, depression, and addictions is because I am not praying for them? I don’t want to make it sound that all Christians should do is pray, certainly we are called to get off our butts and do something, but the fact is that many Christians are so focused on themselves that they miss the pain and the struggles of others. I am guilty of this.
Part of the reason this passage hit me so hard today is because this is the area of my life God has called me to work on. He has impressed upon my heart that I need to be a person of prayer, because things change as a result of my prayer.
The thing about prayer is that it sounds like an easy thing to do, but it is extremely difficult. Satan and his demonic horde will do everything in their power to keep me from praying effectively. No wonder Paul wrote that Epaphras prayed hard for the Colossians. Praying for them wasn’t easy, but he committed himself to praying, so he prayed.
As 2009 draws to a close I am going to commit to being a person of prayer. There are many people in my life that need prayer right now, and if I don’t pray for them, who will? When God lays a person on my heart, I need to stop what I am doing and pray for them. By doing this I am inviting God to be part of the situation, and I am working towards fulfilling my Christian duty of loving one another.
I think that I need recapture the reality that prayer is work, and that it is one way I can work for the Kingdom of God here and now. It won’t be the easiest thing I have ever done, but it has the potential of being one of the best.