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I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.
When he thought of what he wanted God to do for his people, he knelt down like a beggar. Of course, God looks at the sincerity of our heart, not the pose of our body. But for Paul, what he felt in his heart and what he expressed in his body were one and the same. Paul went down on his knees because of the urgency and intensity of his concern. Both his body and his words were fused together as he prayed, "God, I beg you to grant my request!"
My favorite example of a church leader praying for his people is Epaphras. Paul reported to the Colossian believers that Epaphras was "always wrestling in prayer for them" (4:12). We do not know for sure whether Epaphras was the pastor of the Colossian congregation. We read only that he was "a faithful minister of Christ" through whom the Colossians had come to believe (1:7). But he certainly maintained a pastoral concern for those he led to Christ.
And Paul wrote that he often observed Epaphras "wrestling" in prayer on their behalf. The Greek word is agonizomenos -- if you pronounce it you will hear the word "agony."
As a church leader, the example of Epaphras always convicts me. If I am not careful, my intercession will often degenerate into a few tired sentences between yawns and sips of coffee as I start my day. I could hardly describe that as agonized wrestling against "principalities and powers" (Ephesians 6:12) on behalf of my congregation!
What Paul prayed for was so vital to those he led that he wanted them to envision what he was doing. So, in
I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge -- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."
He asked God to give the Ephesian believers two things: God's power and God's love. There's nothing more we as leaders could pray for any believer in any situation than an unmistakable experience of God's power and love:
Clasping hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the chaos in another person's life! When you and I pray for those we lead, we need to pray, "God, let them experience your power! God, let them experience your love."
LeaderLines is a weekly "e-briefing" providing valuable information and inspiration to those who serve at Hillcrest Baptist Church.