[The following is condensed from an article by C.H. Macintosh, 1820 -1896.]
The allusions in the New Testament to Epaphras are very brief, but very pithy. He has the stamp of a man who is so much needed at the present moment. His labours were not showy as far as we know from the record. They were not calculated to meet the human eye or elicit human praise. But they were precious labours, labours within the closed door, labours in the sanctuary, labours without which all other activity must prove barren and worthless. Epaphras is presented as a man of prayer. See Colossions 4:12-13.
We are thankful for preachers, writers and travellers, but we want men of prayer like Epaphras. Behind all service we want a spirit of prayer - fervent, perservering prayer. Without this nothing can prosper. A prayerless man is a sapless man. A prayerless evangelist will do but little good. A prayerless shepherd will have little food for the flock. We want the labours of men like Epaphras, men for the moment.
There are immense advantages of these labours of our own room - advantages for those who engage in them and advantages for those who are the subjects of them. They are quiet, unobtrusive labours. They are carried on in the hallowed, soul-subduing solitude of the divine presence, outside the range of mortal vision.
A person may not have the ability to preach, teach, write or travel; but everyone can pray. We want a real spirit of prayer. We want a spirit that enters into the present need of the church and bears that need in perservering, fervent intercession before the throne of grace. This spirit may be exercised at all times, and under all circumstances.
The heart can spring upward in prayer and supplication at any time. The Father's ear is always open. He is ready to hear, ready to answer. The feeblest child of God can pray, can watch, can get an answer, and return thanks.
Nothing will give us a deep interest in people like the habit of praying constantly for them. Epaphras would be intensely interested in the Christians at Colosse, Laodicea, and Hierapolis. His interest made him pray, and his prayers made him interested. Whenever we are drawn out in prayer for people, we are sure to rejoice in their growth and prosperity. So also for the unconverted. Their conversion is looked for with anxiety, and hailed, when it comes, with thankfulness. The thought of this should stir us up to imitate Epaphras. He is described by the Holy Spirit as "a servant of Christ" in connection with his fervent prayers for God's people.
The highest motive for imitating the spirit of Epaphras is that it is in unison with the spirit of Christ. He desires that they should "stand perfect and complete in all the will of God". What a link between the heart of Epaphras and the heart of Christ when he (Epaphras) was labouring for his brethren in those localities.
May He raise up persons like Epaphras. These are people for the present need.