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While not a biblical word, “travail” is a biblical idea. The first known usage of the word was in the 13th century and it described work of a painful or laborious nature. Synonyms were agony, torment, distress, tribulation, woe. Some modern translations of Gal.4:19 and Rom 8:22 describe “the pains of childbirth” by using the word “travail.” Not sure when Christians first began to use the word related to prayer, but we have ceased to use it with the same frequency as our forefathers. While most prayer is joyful, some prayer includes exhausting work. Hezekiah and Isaiah “cried out to heaven” (2 Chron. 32:20). The Sons of Israel “cried out” to God in confession of sin (Neh. 9:28). Hannah was “in bitterness” and “wept in anguish” in her prayer (1 Sam. 1:10). According to the writer of Hebrews, Jesus prayed with “vehement cries and tears” (Heb. 5:7). Indeed our Lord prayed with such intensity in Gethsemane that “His sweat became like great drops of blood” (Luke 22:44). Paul asked believers in Rome to “strive together” with him in prayer (Rom. 15:30). Epaphras was “always laboring fervently” in his prayers (Col. 4:12). Our forefathers in the faith spoke of “importunity” in prayer. Today, we speak of “agonizing” or “wrestling” in prayer. It is all a form of travail. Serious prayer warrior, I ask you a question. How long has it been since you travailed in prayer? When was the last time your sweat appeared as blood? Pray on!

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