Colossians 4:12-13 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. I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea, and Hierapolis.
The Apostle Paul wrote to the Church at Colossae, and wanted to encourage the members there by telling the things being done on their behalf. He mentioned one of his co-laborers, Epaphras. He wrote, Ephaphras “is always wrestling in prayer for you.” He had a clear focus for his prayers. He wanted the believers to stand firm in the will of God and for them to be mature and fully assured.
Prayer is central to our work for God. As shepherds in the local church, we should be diligently praying for the people we serve. It is helpful in our prayers lives to stay focused. Dick Eastman wrote “The Hour That Changes The World”, and suggested dividing our prayer time into twelve, five minute segments, and pray this way daily. Perhaps you will find some of these principles helpful.
To structure an hour in prayer, divide each hour into twelve, five-minute points of focus. Some aspects may require only a minute; others may require more than five.
- Praise (Psalm 63:3; Hebrews 12:15). All prayer should begin with recognition of God’s nature. Praise esteems God for his virtues and accomplishments.
- Waiting (Isaiah 40:31; Lamentations 3:25). Not only should we begin this time with praise, but also we should be quiet in God’s presence.
- Confession (Psalm 51:10; 1 John 1:9). The psalmist asked God to search his heart for unconfessed sin, a roadblock to answered prayer.
4. The Word (Psalm 19:7-8; 2 Timothy 3:16). “The commandment of the Lord [his Word] is pure, enlightening the eyes,” wrote King David. At this point in the hour, read God’s Word.
- Intercession (Psalm 2:8; Matthew 9:37-38). Our prayer now centers on intercession for a lost and dying world. This concerns praying for others with desperate needs.
- Petition (Matthew 6:11; James 4:2). This concerns our personal needs, opening our need to God through prayer.
- The Word (Jeremiah 23:29; 2 Samuel 22:31). Earlier we read God’s Word; now pray God’s Word.
- Thanksgiving (Psalm 100:4; Philippians 4:6). While praise recognizes God for who he is, thanksgiving recognizes God for specific things he has done.
- Singing (Psalm 100:2; Ephesians 5:19). The apostle Paul spoke of singing “spiritual songs.” To sing unto the Lord is to worship God in melody.
- Meditation (Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:1-2). Meditation differs from waiting in God’s presence; to meditate is to ponder spiritual themes in reference to God.
- Listening (Ecclesiastes 5:2; 1 Kings 19:11-12). Whether through the written Word or by the “still small voice” of the Holy Spirit, God speaks to praying Christians.
- Praise (Psalm 150; Matthew 6:13). We end prayer as we began it: recognizing and celebrating God’s nature.