by Nathan Hedt

What or who on earth is an Epaphras?

Epaphras is a biblical character who is only mentioned in four verses of the New Testament. He is not exactly the most famous or glamourous person but for the little Christian church in the city of Colossae, he was one of the most important people!

First, Epaphras was an evangelist. He was one of the first to share the gospel with the people of Colossae (Colossians 1:6–8). But just as importantly, Epaphras also served the Christians of his city in a different way; a behind-the-scenes way that quietly and powerfully shaped the church.

St Paul tells us that Ephaphras was ‘always wrestling in prayer’ for Christians, so that they might ‘stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured’ (Colossians 4:12). Epaphras is working hard in prayer! We might call him an intercessor or a prayer warrior.

Do you know someone in your congregation who has a calling from God to get on their knees and beg God for the spiritual maturity, Christlikeness and mission of the people of the local church?

Or perhaps, does the description of Epaphras stir and excite something in your own heart?

I dare to believe that in every place, in every church, God graciously puts at least one person like Epaphras. In every place, God provides people whose gifting and calling is simply to pray, intercede and be persistent with him for the growth and maturity of the congregation.

I also believe that spirit-empowered, persistent prayer is the foundation of each ministry and mission opportunity of every congregation.

That’s why LCANZ Local Mission is launching the Epaphras Project. The project aims to identify, equip, affirm and network the intercessors – the Epaphras-type people – in every congregation across the church.

We recognise that the ‘renewing’ part of our work is vitally important. Our work is to see congregations of the LCANZ renewed in their mission, become healthier and make new disciples of Jesus. And that really can’t happen without a foundation of persistent, focused prayer, just as Epaphras was praying for the Christians at Colossae, Laodicea and Hierapolis.

Usually, a few members – perhaps one, two or three – are faithful in prayer for church revitalisation. But God uses these few for this ministry of prayer.

It often takes several years of persistent prayer for the congregation to move from decline or stagnation to revitalisation and growth.

Thom Rainer, a church consultant in the USA, has helped hundreds of congregations revitalise and step into God’s vibrant future.

Out of his practice and research, he’s written a book called The Anatomy of a Revived Church. He concludes a chapter on prayer in this way:

‘If you are seeking immediate application to the principle of powerful prayer in your church, begin praying God will provide a prayer warrior. Even more, ask the members in the church if God might be moving in their lives to lead a ministry of prayer for revitalisation.

‘We have seen again and again in our anatomy of revitalised churches that every sustained church revitalisation is undergirded by a powerful movement of prayer. Every. Single. One. It’s just that important.’

So, I’m starting the Epaphras Project firstly by praying. I’m praying that God will raise up and bring forth one or more ‘Epaphrases’ for every congregation of the LCANZ.


Firstly, and most importantly, you can get involved by joining me in this prayer: ‘Loving God, please raise up the Epaphras-type people in our congregation. Please affirm and equip our intercessors to provide persistent prayer. Align our hearts with your heart.’

You can also help identify and talk to the Epaphras-type person (or people) in your congregation.

Ask them to read this article if they haven’t already done so. Ask whether they are willing to join the movement of prayer, and pray specifically for spiritual maturity, renewal and mission in your congregation.

If you are in congregational leadership, you can approach your ‘Epaphrases’ and ask them to pray specifically for ministry and mission in your congregation. I guarantee if you find them and ask them, they will be delighted to do so. This is their God-given gift and joy! Affirm and encourage them.

Or you might find yourself resonating with what I’ve written here. I’d encourage you to ask, ‘Holy Spirit, might I be one of these intercessors? How do you want me to use this gift to serve your people?’ If you sense you are an ‘Epaphras,’ please get in touch! You can email

Our hope and prayer is to network the prayer warriors in the LCANZ and provide recognition, encouragement, training and suggestions for prayer.

We long to see everyone and every congregation ‘stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured’ (Col 4:12). We long to see people be able to ‘make the most of every opportunity’ for mission in their conversation and action (Col 4:5,6).

Who on earth is Epaphras? He is an intercessor. Who on earth are the Epaphrases in your congregation? They just may be among the quietest, least famous, but most vital people in your church!

Will you join the Epaphras Project?

Prayer suggestion:

Gracious Triune God, we thank you that you invite us deeper into your life and mission through prayer, which is not just asking you for things, but dwelling with you and letting your word permeate our lives.

Would you please raise up someone like Epaphras for (my congregation), and encourage them in the ministry of intercession? Would you please provide prayer warriors in every congregation of the LCANZ, and empower them to wrestle in prayer for your people?

Would you please continue to pour out your Spirit on the members and congregations of the LCANZ, to bring renewed life, a vibrant future and a deep joy in our shared mission with you? Would you please use our local congregation to help people to get to know Jesus, and to help people walk with him more closely?

Thank you for your gracious gifts, including prayer warriors and intercessors like Epaphras! We pray in the precious name of Jesus. Amen.

Prayer is the work!

On 29 January 2023, the day of the Epaphras Project rollout in Victoria’s Ringwood Knox Parish, I heard it expressed for the first time in Lutheran circles that prayer is the most important thing we can do. Prayer is the work!

The call to action was challenging and encouraging. And God laid it on the hearts of nine brothers and sisters at Ringwood to pray together for his work.

So, we gather on Sundays to talk about the things God has laid on our hearts and minds during the week. Then we pray our agreed-together prayers. We thank and praise God for his love and care. We pray for our pastor/s, for inspiration by the Holy Spirit with every word God knows we need to hear, for the direction of our congregation and that God will take us to those who don’t yet know Jesus as Lord and Saviour. We pray for many other things, too!

The ‘enable, grow and go’ aspects of our congregation remain a work in progress, but there is a vibe around answered prayer. We are hearing of individuals asking for particular Bible studies and prayer regarding evangelism, and we are providing copies of Australian evangelist Sam Chan’s book How to talk about Jesus (without being that guy) for inspiration.

We know God wouldn’t lay prayers on our hearts if his answers to these prayers were not already set in motion!

–   Liz Wieland

Be like Epaphras – Colossians 4:12

Anyone who really knows me knows that prayer for others – intercession – is part of who I am. It’s part of standing in the gap for other people, inviting the Lord’s touch into their lives. And the Holy Spirit has led me on many adventures in intercession, and also in recognising answers to prayer.

To heed this call to pray for others, to follow the Spirit’s leading in taking God at his word, is to discover a reach beyond ourselves, asking the Lord’s working into the earth-realm. It’s a journey of growth, available to anyone!

In February 2023, I joined Emeritus Pastor Fred Veerhuis in teaching, via Zoom, Lutheran pastors and leaders in Vietnam. In one of my sessions on prayer, I focused on Epaphras, Paul’s co-worker. I encouraged them to take notice of who among their people is like an Epaphras, to encourage them.

People who pray for others help prepare the ‘soil’ in people to be receptive to the ‘seed’ of God’s word, the good news of Jesus. We will only find out in heaven the difference it has made.

I look forward to that, as well as being available here now!

–  Ruth Olsen

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