What’s the thing you like doing most with friends? Sharing a coffee or a lunch? Having a glass of wine or two in your pyjamas together? Shopping together or enjoying a stroll? Do you have a close friend or two who you pray with regularly? Having prayer friends can offer so much in support. Today I have asked a friend to share with us how praying with other women helps her in her life with God.
When someone asks you how you’re feeling do you tend to say “fine” even when you’re not? Often we have a fear of troubling someone with our problems which keeps us from sharing how we’re really feeling. So we go through the day pretending we’re ok when we’re hurting inside. Many times it may not be appropriate to reply to the question with how we are really feeling – the bus driver may not want to know that we’ve just had a row with our husband about whose turn it was to take the kids to school, for example! However, the danger comes if we bottle our feelings up and never have a way of letting them out and sharing them with anyone. When my parents-in-law ask how someone is at church and the answer is “fine” they will often repeat the question and say “But how are you really?”
For many of us we need to have close friends whom we trust and who we know we can share anything with. It is to these people that we are bold enough to talk about the way we’re really feeling, pour out our problems, reveal our hurting places, fears and worries. A friend like this is such a blessing – someone who offers a shoulder to cry on, who understands and empathise with how we are feeling, and who offers some advice. This relationship of trust and care can be even more blessed when we can pray together too. When someone else prays into our problems they pray differently to how we would ourselves as they have a different perspective. They also hear differently from God as when we have something really big on our mind it can be sometimes hard to hear the blessings and encouragement that God wants to speak over us at that time. When we are committed to praying with someone or a group of people it changes us, we see our problems differently and we grow in strength with each other.
The group of terrified confused followers of Jesus that we saw when Jesus was crucified were totally different by the time Jesus ascended into heaven. In How to Pray – Coping with Distractions last week we saw how at Jesus’ greatest time of need the disciples were unable to pray, falling asleep instead. Yet, now we see a group of believers who have seen the resurrection, who now understand their faith in a new way and want to live in complete and utter dependence on the Father in the way that Jesus had.
They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. Acts 1:14
I wonder how much this time of fervent prayer strengthened them for their future ministry. No more the fearful, trembling bunch who denied Jesus or stayed in hiding, melancholy and depressed. They were now emboldened, ready to receive the Holy Spirit and to proclaim the Gospel at all costs.
Danielle, a very good friend of mine meets with a small group of women who pray and read the Bible together on a regular basis. In between their meetings they text, email and Facebook each other things that they need prayer about throughout the week, big or small.
She says, “It’s a lifeline sometimes. It is what upholds me in stressful times, but it’s also a blessing for me to support my girlfriends in prayer too. It’s great to help and support each other practically, but as well as socializing together it’s amazing to have some close relationships centred on God. Normal friendships can have great depth and meaning, but this is something special and is a great blessing to me! I think because of this support, I have been able to grow through difficult times and draw close to God, because the relationships I have with my Christian friends keep on track.”
Do you have a friend or a group of friends that you pray with on a regular basis? What kind of ways does this bless you? Think how these relationships have altered your perspective or supported you through hard times. If you don’t have a relationship like this is there someone you could approach and ask to pray with you regularly? If no one springs to mind maybe you could pray for God to show you someone who could bless you in this way.
Our friends are great treasures who we share so much with – good times and bad. When we share our spiritual journey with those friends and pray together that friendship deepens profoundly. Amazing answers to prayer happen when we get together with others and pray.
“Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them.” Matthew 18:19-20
Photo used with permission by Piotr Lewandowski courtesy of Stock.Xchng