Colossians 4: “A Colossian Praying for Colossians”

Daniel Nash (1775-1831)

Daniel Nash pastored a small church in the backwoods of New York for six years, and traveled with and prayed for a traveling evangelist for seven more years until his death. As far as we know, he never ministered outside the region of upstate New York during days when much of it was frontier. His tombstone is in a neglected cemetery along a dirt road behind a livestock auction barn. His church no longer exists, its meetinghouse location marked by a historical marker in a corn field; the building is gone, its timber used to house grain at a feed mill four miles down the road. No books tell his life story, no pictures or diaries can be found, his descendants (if any) cannot be located, and his messages are forgotten. He wrote no books, started no schools, led no movements, and generally, kept out of sight.

Yet this man saw revival twice in his pastorate, and then was a key figure in one of the greatest revivals in the history of the United States. In many ways he was to the U. S. what Praying Hyde was to India. He is known almost exclusively for his powerful prayer ministry.

“On one occasion when I got to town to start a revival a lady contacted me who ran a boarding house. She said, ‘Brother Finney, do you know a Father Nash? He and two other men have been at my boarding house for the last three days, but they haven’t eaten a bite of food. I opened the door and peeped in at them because I could hear them groaning, and I saw them down on their faces. They have been this way for three days, lying prostrate on the floor and groaning. I thought something awful must have happened to them. I was afraid to go in and I didn’t know what to do. Would you please come see about them?’ “‘No, it isn’t necessary,’ Finney replied. ‘They just have a spirit of travail in prayer.’”

J Paul Reno,  “Prayer Warrior for Charles Finney”

Epaphras

I was reminded of the story of Daniel Nash after reading in Colossians 4 about one of Paul’s leaders, Epaphras. Paul indicates in v. 12 that Epaphras is, “a member of your own fellowship.” It’s presumed that Epaphras may have been converted in Ephesus under Paul’s teaching there, and then returned to Colosse, his hometown, to establish the church. After he founded the church in Colosse, Epaphras probably then moved to Hieropolis and Laodicea to establish churches in these areas as well.

Lets take a second and look at what Paul has to say about Epaphras:

  • Servant of Christ Jesus
  • Always prays earnestly for his church
  • Asks God to make his church strong and perfect
  • Asks God to make his church fully confident that they are following the whole will of God
  • Paul assures Epaphras’ congregation that he prays hard for his churches

I like how the NIV reads, “He is always wrestling in prayer for you (v. 12)” The word for wrestling here is the same word found in 1:29 and 2:1. It describes physical striving and conflict, like an athlete in an arena. Like Daniel Nash, I envision Epaphras on his knees physically crying out to God on his face. The language and usage to describe how Epaphras prayed showed not only his deep love for his church, but also the fact it wasn’t a one time event. Rather, Epaphras would pray and interceed for long stretches of time, doing battle with spiritual adversaries.

Prayer Warrior

For all pretense and purposes, Epaphras can be described as a Prayer Warrior. Ready, willing, and able to do his fighting on his knees. Here was a Colossian praying for Colossians! Here was a dedicated leader who interceeded on behalf of his people.

Maybe today you need to lock yourself in a room, get on your knees, and pray for God to do something that only God can do. Maybe you need to follow Epaphras’ example and wrestle in prayer for your church, your family, and your friends.