“Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.”
“always laboring fervently for you in prayers”
Epaphras was a person who prayed for fellow believers in his church. While in captivity in Rome, he “agonized” in prayer for his church back in Colosse.
Note the two ways in which he prayed for them: 1) laboring and 2) fervently. “Laboring” means wrestling (cf. Jacob in Gen. 32). He wrestled in prayer for the Colossians. “Laboring” is from the Greek word to agonize. It is an athletic term involving a personal struggle. We can translate “laboring” by “wrestling.” It means to exert the last ounce of strength to win the match. Agony comes at the end of the match, where strength is spent.
Paul uses this term of himself in 1:29 and 2:1. Jesus also was in “agony” in the garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:44). The great struggle in prayer is a great need of the church today. We need to agonize in prayer more than to organize programs.
Epaphras is still keeping up with his congregation in prayer. He could not hop on Alexander Gram Bell to find out how they were doing. He did have a direct line to God, however. His direct line was prayer. He prayed with a headache; he prayed when he was tired; he prayed when he was sick; he prayed chained to the guards. No matter how tired, sick, or exhausted, he might be, he prayed.
“Fervently” — It is the effectual, fervent prayer that avails with God (James 5:16,17).
Epaphras was the pastor of the church at Colosse. Now he is in jail. He has a new ministry, the ministry of intercessory prayer. He served God in prison by praying for the Colossian church.
Every Christian has recourse to fervent prayer.
Epaphras labored in prayer that people in his congregation might stand firm and not fall victim to false teaching.
When we are separated from our loved ones who need spiritual help, the one thing we can do for them is to pray. We can pray that God will introduce friends, circumstances, blessings, bane into their lives. God can create a positive volition toward himself by sovereignly managing the events of their lives.
Most of us do not know anything about agonizing in prayer. We know how to pray or say prayers, except when we face the death of a child. We learn how to agonize in prayer very quickly then.