Pastors, Devote Yourselves to the Word and Prayer (Part 3)

Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.  (Colossians 4:12)

It appears that Epaphras planted the church at Colossae (Colossians 1:7). Part prophet and part priest in his ministry, he spoke to others on God’s behalf and spoke to God on their behalf. Like Paul, and like Jesus before him, Epaphras was a model pastor. He shows us the simple (but certainly not easy) rhythm of preaching to people and praying for people. It is essential that we regain this sacred rhythm once again.

Last post we discovered that the power for this was found by praying in the Spirit using the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17-18). All intercession should be done under the Spirit’s direction using Scripture as the basis of our appeals to God. If we can compare the Spirit to a train engine, then the railway lines are the Word of God that the Spirit travels along.
2 Peter 1:4 tells us that one of the great provisions of God for our sanctification is his “precious and very great promises”. Now we are getting to the heart of the matter. Follow the logic:

  1. God’s great purpose in his secret providence is to conform us to Christ-likeness (Romans 8:28-29). Christ died for us that we may be like him and live for him. (2 Corinthians 5:15)
  2. One of the “means” God uses to make us like Christ are his “very great promises” which are given to help us “become partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4)
  3. We are told that prayers offered “according to God’s will” can expect a full answer from God (1 John 5:14). And this most certainly includes God’s promises.
  4. God tells us that all his promises are “yes” in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20). The death and resurrection of Christ unlocks the promises of God for the people of God.

This means that the promises of God form the backbone of intercession for others. When we use the promises of God as the basis of our intercession, we are calling God to be faithful — to fulfill his character.

God sent his Son to give us unique access to himself and he sent his Spirit to give us the gift of prayer (Galatians 4:4-6). As our lungs fill with the fresh oxygen of communion with God, let’s use them to breathe life into others by interceding for them.

Pastor, praise God for faithful preaching! But let us also remember the calling and privilege to faithfully intercede for others. Let us again surrender ourselves to this great work: “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4)

is a pastor at Sovereign Grace Church Toronto.