As Paul comes to the end of Colossians he returns to a subject he began with: prayer – though it is not a “subject” of the letter at all. Paul has been praying for his readers, and in the last chapter, he urges them to pray for him. It is apparent Paul considers his success impossible without God’s help, and considers that help available only because of the intercession of prayer.
Don’t you find that strange?
Paul is engaged in God’s work. The success of that work depends on God’s intervention. But the intervention only comes if Paul asks and others ask in Paul’s behalf. It’s God’s work. Why doesn’t God just tend to it? Why must we always be asking for success doing what He wants done?
The answer, of course, can be summed up on one word: dependence. God wants us to be ever mindful of our need to rely on Him. Even engaged in His work accomplishing His goals, He wants us not to take it for granted that we will be successful, but demonstrate we depend on Him.
At the bottom line, this is the life of faith.
That being said, why is prayer for the Colossians such a struggle that Epaphras must “wrestle” in prayer for them? I wonder if it might not be these problems the Colossians are facing. After all, they know better than believe the foolishness being fed to them by their false teachers. And yet, they are buying it anyway. Might it not be easier to forget them and move on to something or someone else?
It might, but that would not be the attitude of Jesus. It had to be a struggle to eat with the man who would betray him, but Jesus did it, and placed him close to him as he did and fed him from his own hand. That’s tough. But it is what followers of Jesus do.