Right at the end of his letter to the people of Colossae Paul gives us a glimpse of his support network. Paul conveys the greetings of his friends: Aristarchus, Mark, Jesus (also called Justus), Epaphras, Luke, Demas and naturally Tychicus and Onesimus who we got to know in the previous two devotions.
Once again, I realize that we simply cannot walk this road through the world alone. You need a group of friends who can hold your hand. Certainly, there were times when things didn’t go well with Paul. Maybe he felt doubtful or discouraged about the circumstances in which he found himself. Maybe the soldiers hitting him sometimes became too much for him. In these hard times, his friends (probably Aristarchus, because he was in prison with Paul) helped him to get through it. If he didn’t have a support network, chances are he might have given up.
Paul used these words to describe his friends: working hard for the Lord, reliable, encouraging others, dependable, loyal, persistent, witness for God, and even lifesavers because hundreds of people’s lives were saved when they heard God’s message of salvation for the first time. Wow, it really was a close group of friends with wonderful talents who kept Paul standing.
It is always difficult to single out one person because chances are the others will then not get the recognition they deserve. However, Epaphras deserves special mention. About him, Paul said the following: 12 – Epaphras, who is one of you, says hello. What a trooper he has been! He is been extremely tireless in his prayers for you, praying that you will stand firm, mature & confident in everything God wants you to do. Vs. 13I have watched him closely & can report on how hard he has worked for you and for those in Laodicea and Hierapolis.
An excellent example of a man of God, I want to be like that. I want to be a prayer soldier with a passion to pray tirelessly for others. I want to invest all my energy in Jesus’ world. I want to pray for my friends to stay on track, especially when it becomes more difficult to do so.
I more and more realize that we cannot remain standing in this world when we are alone. On our own, we are too weak. The economy will depress us, the political circumstances and leaders without direction will drive us up the wall, and again and again, we will fall for the temptations on-screen and wherever – if we try to make it on our own.
We all need a support network. And naturally, we should form part of someone else’s support network. We must support one another. We must pray for one another. We must invest our energy in one another because God has given us to one another.
Let’s follow the example set by Paul and his pals. Let’s invest in friendships because in that way we can help one another to walk upright through life. In this way, we can encourage one another if we should trip and fall.
We have to pray for one another, because when we do, God not only hears our own wishes and desires, and we ourselves hear how we pray for others. The world has changed and many people live only for themselves. Praying for others helps us focus on others again.
See what Paul is asking them to pray for, nothing personal. If I was in Paul’s shoes, I suspect I would have asked them to first pray for my release from prison or better food or something. But Paul prays for the work in God’s Kingdom. Paul never puts himself first in line with his prayer requests.
This is so different from our prayers.
We shouldn’t be at the center of our prayers – with our shopping list wanting things to satisfy our own needs. Yes, we may tell God what we need, but this shouldn’t dominate our prayers. God and others should be the focus of our prayers.
We must also pray for God’s Kingdom. So many people need God, so many who struggle, so many people on their way to everlasting hell. We must intercede for them. We must ask God to let his Spirit work to create opportunities for us to show them God’s love.
Sometimes people hurt so much that they can’t even pray. Sometimes people are too far from God or too confused to pray. In times like that friends support one another and pray for them and turn to God on their behalf. God understands it and God listens to the prayers of the faithful.
When praying for doors to open, I always ask the Lord to show me or others which one to open. This is a little bit different from asking God to open the doors. When I pray for God to show me which door to open, it remains my responsibility to open the door. Sometimes we become passive and think it’s God’s work to do all the work. We must do what is possible and leave the impossible to God.
Let’s pray for one another. Let’s pray that God will show us which doors to open. Let’s pray together to work in God’s Kingdom and May we make a big difference in many people’s lives.