Colossians 4:12 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.
Here we have a description of a true pastor. Epaphras was physically separated from his flock, but he was still laboring for them in one of the most important ways. Every pastor prays for their flock, but not all do so accurately or consistently. Too often “the squeaky wheel gets the grease,” and people are prayed for only as they become problematical to the pastor. This is a major problem with “needy” Christians. Everyone has needs, but some people make a business of it, demanding attention at every turn. That not only wears the pastor out, it distracts him from pastoring the whole flock. It is quite true that Jesus told the parable of the 99 sheep vs. the one that wandered, but that’s not the same as a sheep that demands attention. Every pastor needs to seek the Lord for His ministry priorities, understanding that he can’t do the job on his own, much less meet every need for every individual. What he can do is labor in prayer, just as Epaphras did, so that the Holy Spirit will have free rein to do in each individual and in the flock as a whole exactly what the Father knows is needed. That doesn’t mean that other physical action isn’t called for, but it is to say that prayer is the foundation and the most important facet of pastoral ministry.
Ouch! It’s always interesting when the Holy Spirit stomps on my toes through what I write! I pray a lot, but my prayers tend to be the “squeaky wheel” type, focusing on the crisis of the moment rather than laying groundwork for what God wants to do in each life. I need to be deliberate and intentional in my prayers, not just going on the whim or crisis of the moment. I enjoy prayer, but I need to learn better how to labor at it rather than take it as automatic or some sort of side issue. The daily morning prayer times we’ve been having for the past few weeks have been very good, and I need to make the most of them. I’m on deck for tomorrow morning, and I need to be open ahead of time for what the Lord wants to say and do through me so that we may all continue to grow in prayer.
Father, thank You for this clear Word. Thank You for this time at this conference. In a number of ways it has been disappointing to the point of being frustrating, but You have been working nonetheless. Thank You for the tract You have prompted me to write. Help me follow through with that as You intend, to reap the results that You intend. Thank You for what You’ve said to me this morning about prayer. Help me be faithful about that as well, and not just slip back into my old ways. May I keep pressing forward for more of You, so that You may be manifested more and more in and through me, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!