Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wrestling in Prayer: Forgotten Truths

How is your "prayer life"? Less than you would like it to be? I think the vast majority of us would say the same. I don't know why this is entirely. I do know that I am struck by what Paul told the Colossians regarding the prayer habits of one Epaphras:

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)

That's the NIV translation. The NASB uses the word "laboring" and the ESV uses the word "struggling". Wrestling, laboring, struggling...are these good descriptions of your prayer life?

Or do you pray like a wimp?

Look at these four striking truths about prayer, if we see Epaphras as an example.

1. Prayer is a labor. Epaphras didn't just mention things before God. He wrestled. He labored. Prayer should engage the heart and the soul and the mind. It can be painful, even frightening, to face the reality of all the people and problems that need praying for, but still they need praying for. It takes concentration and effort of faith at times to pray to the God we cannot see; still, He is there, strengthening and using us. And He is infinitely greater than these concerns. Engaging God completely in prayer does not happen accidentally. It is truly a labor. But it is a beautiful, rewarding, holy labor.

2. Prayer should primarily be for other people. And not for ourselves. "He is always wrestling in prayer for you..."

3. Prayer should primarily address spiritual concerns. Did Epaphras pray for the Colossians, that they would have all the toys they wanted? That their various broken fingers and headcolds would heal? He prayed that they would stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. He prayed for their adherence to the truth of the Gospel, and that they would both know and do the will of God, and that they would have full confidence in Christ. Very God-centered, very Christ-centered.

4. Prayer looks to particular answers. Epaphras did not pray, "God, be with them". Wimpy wimpy! Vague! (Isn't God omnipresent whether we pray for it or not?) He prayed a passionate and specific prayer for their full development and transformation as Christians.


Kelli said...

Wow, this is a great post, Kurt! Your writing is very well put together and flows nicely. I really liked your fourth point. I do however have some questions concerning your third point...

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