Wrestling-in Prayer

You are here

Wrestling-in Prayer

Login or Create an Account

With a UCG.org account you will be able to save items to read and study later!

Sign In | Sign Up

The church in Colosse began when a local man named Epaphras traveled to Ephesus to hear the teaching of Paul (Acts 19). While Acts 19 doesn’t tell the story of Epaphras and the origin of the Colosse congregation, it is explained in Bible encyclopedias and in any good study Bible. Epaphras later became the pastor of Colosse, nearby Laodicea and Hierapolis. While visiting Paul in Rome, he became a “fellow prisoner” (Colossians 1:7; Philemon 23). He brought news of heresy problems, which prompted the letter to the Colossians. A reader of the original may have sensed at Paul’s signature the chains on his wrists also lying across the parchment (4:18). In this last chapter, Paul commends Epaphras, his fellow worker, with this outstanding endorsement; “He is always wrestling in prayer for you” (4:12, New International Version throughout, except where noted). Wrestling in fervent prayer—it’s an interesting description for this vital part of Christian life. To wrestle is to struggle, be in anguish, labor fervently and be in agony. It’s related to the same Greek word used of Christ in Gethsemane where, “being in agony [of mind], He prayed [all the] more earnestly and intently; and His sweat became like great clots of blood dropping down upon the ground” (Luke 22:44, Amplified Bible). Epaphras’s prayer for God’s people was that they: “Stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured” (Colossians 4:12). Who wouldn’t appreciate fervent prayers made about these things? Heart-filled words move God God responds to heartfelt petitions made by faithful believers. And we know He values the righteous. This is comforting. The angels sent to destroy Sodom responded patiently to Lot’s hesitancy: “Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of. But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it” (Genesis 19:21-22). For us it is reminiscent of the scripture in Matthew, “for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened” (24:22). To wrestle is to do one’s utmost in dealing with a task, to strain and strive as in a hard struggle. Here are ways we can be like Epaphras and wrestle in prayer for others: Wrestling for intervention from sickness and disease. King Hezekiah of Judah was told by divine decree his life was over. But his impassioned prayer from his deathbed (he “wept bitterly”) affected a change of heart in God (2 Kings 20:1-6). He was granted 15 more years. We note from Scripture that he didn’t make the wisest choices in those years. Nonetheless, he was allowed to die in peace. Parallels in our life might be where God has granted us respite and space for things to work out. Serious health needs call for our prayers of intercession. Wrestling for conscience or embarrassment. The prophet Ezekiel was commanded by God to portray famine by using human excrement as fuel to cook a meager meal. But this represented a ceremonial defilement for a priest. Although God commanded it, Ezekiel just could not bring himself to agree to the requirement. In prayer, he explained why he could not, and it was sufficient for God to change His mind. In effect, God said, “Oh, all right, if you don’t want to then use cow dung” (Ezekiel 4:14-15). There are also times our human nature gets in the way of admitting we’ve said the wrong thing. An inner thought might be: “Well, I’ve gone and said it so now it’s too late.” Ezra did just that before the Persian monarch. He was later too ashamed to ask for troops to protect them on their journey. Instead, Ezra and the people fasted and prayed (Ezra 8:22-23). Wrestling for a warning witness. God said, “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up your voice like a trumpet; declare to my people their transgression, to the house of Jacob their sins!” (Isaiah 58:1, Revised Standard Version). And in the next chapter, He was appalled that “there was no one to intervene” (59:16). Ezekiel quotes God as saying: “I looked for a man to…stand before me in the gap on behalf the land…but I found none” (22:30). Pray for people to “save [themselves] from this corrupt generation” (Acts 2:40). Why? Because God is “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Pray for righteously inclined people to make a stand for truth. Wrestling for financial stability, peace and safety in life. Paul exhorted that “prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority” (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Why? “That we may live peaceful and quiet lives, in all godliness and holiness.” Pray that those who support God’s Church can receive job and financial blessings. Pray, too, that our national leaders will make decisions that promote economic stability and physical safety for God’s people. Wrestling in prayer is important for Christians, especially when many have lost their sense of urgency. Be like Epaphras. He’s a good scriptural role model for fervent prayer. Recommended reading Request our free booklets Is the Bible True? and Making Life Work.