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MISSING

By Claire H. Goodwin

 

 

For a long time I have searched for him and occasionally I would spot him in a church or in someone’s home. 

Yet, even a nationwide search strongly indicates that he is missing. 

This is dreadful! 

He must be found! 

Things were so different when he was around.  God Himself is no doubt grieved by his absence.  I know the pastor feels it deeply.  And the whole church has been affected.  Sometimes you just don’t realize what you have until it is gone.  No one else has been able to replace him.

Perhaps you can help me search. 

 It seems the most likely place for him to show up is in a Holiness church.  Maybe someone could check with Pastor Lloyd Shuecraft at Fairland holiness church and see if he has been there.  It might be that he has visited Junction Hill Pentecostal Church out in West Plains, Missouri.  Please be on the lookout for him, and if you spot him, don’t let him leave.  From what I hear, he has been to Brother William Hill’s church in Independence, Iowa, and also was at Broadway Assembly in Lorain, Ohio. I ‘m sure he has been seen at Free Gospel Bible Institute in Export, Pennsylvania.

All of these pastors wish they could get a hold of him and keep him at their church, especially now with all our present uncertainties. What a valuable person he has been to God’s work.  Since he has been missing, we have all suffered.

I suppose some people really never knew him, and don’t know what I am talking about.  No doubt, some have even considered his behavior strange.  Then, some many have avoided him because of his strange name.  Have you heard of him?  His name is Epaphras.  I admit, it is a little different, and if you ever met him you might wonder about his behavior too.  These days, you hardly ever see anyone act like that.

Talk about praying! Epaphras really knew how to do that.  Of course, there were always those who didn’t like it and gossiped that he was extreme.  He wasn’t part of the crowd that claimed to pray, but really slept.  In fact, he usually annoyed the sleepers.  Whenever he went to a prayer meeting things came alive.  He hated  “dead, cemetery-like” prayer meetings.  Stranger than his name are people who can shout, run and dance, but leave all that fervor behind when it comes to intercessory prayer.

Epaphras wasn’t interested in popularity or reputation.   He didn’t look for anyone to lift him up for the prayer ministry he had.  He was simply a servant of Christ.  When he shook your hand and asked how your family was doing, you knew he really cared.  It was evident that he wanted things to go well for you, and for you to “stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.”

The pastor really counted on him, because Epaphras carried a genuine burden for the church.  He wished he had a dozen like him in the church.  And now, Epaphras is missing.  Where, oh where has he gone?

Everyone will tell you that he was “always laboring fervently for you in prayers”. Sometimes he prayed so hard that you would think he was in some kind of agony. He almost seemed to wrestle, or fight when he was praying, as if he were in a battle, a conflict against some opposition requiring him to strain every nerve to win.  I sure don’t see too many people praying like that anymore.  Epaphras, we really miss you!

I guess they call what Epaphras did, intercession.  Never heard of it?  I’m not too surprised.  How desperately we need the example of Epaphras to show us again how to develop an effective personal prayer life and move into intercessory prayer.  If he did show up at your church, would he be welcomed? Would he find any prayer warriors to join him?  Would you be among them?

How was Epaphras able to do that kind of praying?  First, he knew and genuinely loved his God.  Second, he had a vision, a burden, and an anointed passion for God’s will, God’s people and God’s work.  Third, he had something absolutely necessary to pray like he did.  He had discipline.  It is much easier not to pray fervently, than to pray fervently.

Paul told believers in Colossians 4:12 that Epaphras was “always laboring fervently for you in prayers,  that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.”  The Greek word for “laboring fervently” is agonizomai.  It speaks of a kind of praying that is sadly missing and desperately needed in our churches today.  It literally means to agonize, to wrestle earnestly in prayer, to strive as in a contest for a prize, to put forth every effort, to fight, engage in conflict against opposition.

We are in a warfare against the powers of darkness. The Holy Ghost warned us about it through Paul, in Ephesians 6:12. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” The theme of some people today is contained in the first four words: “For we wrestle NOT,” and that is exactly what they do.  They wrestle not! Their praying is ineffective. They win few, if any battles spiritually.  Oh, Epaphras, we miss you! Come back and teach us about “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.”

Pastor Keith A. Smith used to say, “Prayer is work, but prayer works.”  Before he would begin preaching on Sunday morning to the nearly eight hundred in his congregation, he would ask: “When this message is over, how many will come to the prayer room and pray for at least a half hour?  Hands would be raised all over, and he would continue.  “How many will stay for at least fifteen minutes?” More hands would go up and he would ask again, “How many will stay for at least five minutes to pray?” The final hands would go up as an entire congregation was learning the value of prayer, and afterward the prayer room would be filled with the sounds of old-fashioned Holy Ghost intercession and prayer. The prayer room was continually giving birth to new intercessors.

 

For a long time I have felt the burden on my heart to see a revival of this kind of praying.  May God send Epaphras back to each of our lives and churches.

Copyright 2012 Calvary Pentecostal Revivals