Prayer and Compound Interest

Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.

-Colossians 4:12


I’m not great at prayer. It’s not that I don’t know what to say (though I know that can be a challenge for some). It’s that I’m too focused on the visible and too focused on myself.

It astounds me that Paul can tell the Colossians that Ephaphras is “always struggling on your behalf in his prayers.” It makes sense: I’ve wanted for those I love, including those far away, to “stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God,” and I do believe in God, and I do believe in prayer, and so it does make sense to me to always struggle in prayer. It just astounds me because I can’t imagine doing it. Prayer is always there, but something else seems more enticing or more practical or more exciting so much of the time.

I don’t think I’m the only one. I do know some astounding people of prayer. Certain faithful, elderly, church ladies come to mind. A dear brother from Ethiopia definitely makes the list. Yet, I would guess there are a lot of people like me who fail like me. I wouldn’t be surprised if young, American, male Christians are some of the worst pray-ers in the world.

Perhaps that’s because young people, Americans, and men are especially ignorant of the truths we learn in prayer that drive us back to prayer: We are frail; God is mighty. We are selfish; God is generous. We are fickle; God is faithful. For some reason, we’re often uninterested in meeting with God, but the God of all things is always ready to meet with us.

Perhaps prayer is like compound interest. You’ve probably seen the calculations for retirement savings: Put in what seems like a small amount each month, and not only will that deposit gain interest, the interest will gain interest, and the interest’s interest will gain interest, and while it feels like you’re depositing a little bit, a little bit, a little bit, the pot grows beyond what you’d expect. The right time to begin is always “now,” because starting sooner pays off all along the way.

I’m not great at prayer, but Epaphras reminds me that the right time to begin is always “now.” A little prayer today will teach me to pray tomorrow. Little by little, a life of prayer grows a heart for prayer, and we become more than you’d expect. Is there a prayer habit you’ve been meaning to adopt, a person you’ve forgotten to pray for, a practice you had and then lost? It’s not too late to start or start again. We could yet become the type of servants of Christ Jesus who struggle on one another’s behalf in prayer, that we might stand mature and fully assured in the will of God.

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