A North Korean Church leader prepared this Bible study. Prayer is such an important subject for North Korean Christians and through this study he is encouraging his fellow believers to “pray as a warrior.” As you read this pastor’s God-inspired study, spend a few moments in contemplation on how God is prompting you to pray…then join in prayer for our brothers and sisters in North Korea.
“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)
Paul did not write much about his pupil Epaphras. Still he is a very special and important Biblical figure, from whom we can learn much. Who was he? Epaphras was taught and trained by Paul. In Colossians 1:7, Epaphras is called a “dear fellow servant.” This immediately indicates how Paul and his fellow workers treated one another. They operated as a team, each with his own gifts and talents. This is one of the ways in which Paul's work bore fruit; he created teams. It is in this same way that we in North Korea must do our work, too. Even though it is difficult to meet one another and to be together, we are one team.
We, too, must live as Paul and Epaphras did and train other workers. Paul and Epaphras lived a life of sacrifice. We must pray that we will live just such a life, so that together we can do God's work, worshipping Him and laying down our lives for Him. This is not easy, but it is what we must pray for.
Love of the Spirit
Epaphras shared the love which Paul had received from the Spirit. The church in Colossi was established on the same love of the Spirit, as it says in 1:8. This was because people like Epaphras were people of love. In this way, the Colossians formed an exemplary church. This is an example for us, too. When we are doing God's work, we may perform our tasks perfunctorily. Particularly when we have been active in His Kingdom for some time, our work may become routine. Our love dries up. But through this Bible study, I want to challenge you to work in love and to serve in love, in the love of Jesus Christ. We must see the fruit of His love in our lives and come to resemble Him more and more. This should be our prayer.
What sort of person was Epaphras? Epaphras had the heart of a missionary. He was active in the church in Colossi, but also, for example, in the church in Laodicea (4:13). He had been involved in founding this church. Still, Epaphras remained for a large part of his time in Colossi, which was sensible, because at that time, many foreigners came to this town. In this way, he was - I think - in a good position to evangelize among foreigners.
Pray that just like Epaphras you will find and train leaders, so that together you can conduct missions in a strategic way and God can work through you. If you share the true gospel, you will definitely see fruit. If we scatter the seed of God's Word and teach this Word with passion, others will recount this further to people whom they can trust. Everywhere new churches will come into being. I am convinced that one day the North Korean church will be able to take part in world missions.
Pray as a Warrior
Concentrate on Colossians 4:12-13.What can we learn from this? That Epaphras wrestled in prayer. He prayed as a warrior. The word “wrestling” in the text means “battling, fighting.” We, too, must pray as warriors. I must do so. In the past, I often went to the mountains and prayed all night. As I got older, this happened less often. But I'm going to do it again, because the church needs people who pray like that. God uses this prayer to open doors. It is not for nothing that Paul tells us at the beginning of chapter four that we must be watchful and thankful and must keep praying. Then, he writes in verse 3, God opens doors to proclaim the mystery of Christ.
What does ”praying as a warrior” entail?
1. Discovering God's will - Just like Paul, we must take our strategies from the Lord God. Paul wrestled in prayer in order to discover the will of God. This meant that God was able to lead him. Do not trust in yourself, only in God's Spirit.
2. Concentrated prayer - We must pray in a concentrated way, and for a long time: at least two hours in a row. When I came to faith, I did not want to change my life. I did want to be a Christian, but I wanted to remain who I was, too, and in particular, I did not want to undertake any risky missions. But while I was praying in a concentrated way, a sentence came to my mind; “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” I did not know this text. When I spoke to a friend about it, he told me that it is in the Bible, in Philippians 4:13. There was much sin in my life. I had to pray long and often in order to break down the barriers between God and me. This, too, is praying as a warrior.
3. Prayer of sacrifice - The prayer of a warrior is also the prayer of sacrifice. Praying is the most important thing you do in a day. Whatever you do each day, begin everything with prayer. Prayer is the shortest way, not the longest! By sacrificing yourself and applying yourself to praying as a warrior, God will open the hearts of people and break through their thinking. We do not pray violently. No, this type of prayer helps us to conquer evil with good. This is why we pray that Kim Jong-Il will become a Christian. And even more, that he will combat the evil in our society.
4. God's protection - We need God's protection. This is why we pray before we receive relief goods from the network (a coded reference to Open Doors). Only when God makes it clear to us that it is safe do we accept these goods. We can trust in this. It is not so much that we are fighting for God. He is fighting for us. It is His work.
Epaphras remained faithful to Jesus Christ until the end. He was a prayer warrior. In this, he followed our Lord, Christ Himself, who also prayed as a warrior. How can we manage without this prayer?
Note: For security reasons, we are not able to say how this Bible study reaches North Korean Christians.