This particular verse has always challenged me. The New International Version says that Epaphras, “wrestles” in prayer for the people of the church. That word translated “wrestles” is the Greek word, agonizomai, from which we get our word agony. This particular word is used several times in the New Testament, but only once with regards to prayer.
Agonizomai is a word which has several meanings: to enter a contest; to contend with an adversary or to fight; to struggle or strive to obtain something. I don’t know about you, but I can think of a number of words to describe my prayer life. I’m not, however, sure that wrestling or contending would be words I might choose.
We are told that we have an enemy who is like a roaring lion “looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). He is the one we fight against and he is the one with whom we contend. Ephesians 6:12 tells us that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against “the spiritual forces of evil in heavenly realms.” In light of that, maybe all of us should “wrestle” more in our prayers.
In Luke 18, Jesus tells us a parable about prayer. We are told to continue to pray for things; to continue to knock and not give up. There is a sense of “wrestling” in prayer whenever we continue to pray for things that seem to go on answered. We must trust that our God is still at work in the spiritual realm, bringing about an outcome for our good, even if it’s not exactly the way we might have hoped or imagined.