(Photo Credit: Paige Steele)

It is so easy for us to assure someone with a quick, “I’ll pray for you.” Years ago, I made it a habit to immediately write down requests for prayer, usually in the presence of the person who just asked me to pray for them. It was a bit awkward, but I wanted to be sure that I followed up and actually remembered them in prayer. Years later, I keep a running list of prayer requests. This list reminds me to pray intentionally each day for family, friends, colleagues and people that God has brought across my path for various reasons.

As we serve in Rwanda, with the goal transforming Rwanda through Christ-centered education and discipleship, we acknowledge that we are completely ineffective without the prayers of God’s people. Many friends of Hope Haven Rwanda are able to give, and some are even able to travel to meet our Rwandan family members face-to-face. I wonder how many are willing to pray regularly? I am so grateful for Monica, a dear friend of the ministry, who sends out a weekly prayer for Hope Haven Rwanda to a group that is committed to pray—what a gift!

Prayer is hard work! As I pray each day, my mind often wanders. Sometimes, I pray for the same request several times, before realizing that I have been distracted the first couple of times I prayed for that individual or need and I am just repeating myself. Oops! That probably never happens to you…

I was encouraged recently to discover that it appears I am not alone in this struggle to remain focused in prayer. I was refreshed by the story of Epaphras. Epaphras is only mentioned twice in the New Testament, and it appears that he was a native of Colossae. He may have been converted by Saint Paul when he lived there, and then accompanied Paul on the next leg of his journey. Whatever the origin of their relationship was, it is clear that the Apostle Paul deeply respected Epaphras and treasured his efforts as a “fellow servant” (Colossians 1:7).

What is particularly interesting to me is that toward the end of his letter to the Colossians, Paul noted that Epaphras is “working” through his prayers. He specifically uses the words “wrestling” and “working hard.”

Here is how Paul put it: “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” (Colossians 4:12-13, emphasis added).

Are we willing to “wrestle” in prayer for others? I am praying now that God will give each reader of this post the grace and strength to wrestle in prayer for the spread of His Kingdom—wherever and however He calls you!