This changed some as we became adults. We still talked and laughed and shared, but we began drawing boundary lines around some areas of our lives. That fight with my husband? Too personal to talk about. Those fears that I might not be a good mother? Too painful. The shame of losing my temper and screaming at my kids? Not something I wanted anyone to know about.
I remember the first time I shared a tender place with a friend. My husband had recently lost his job, and I was only working part time. I was putting on a brave faith face before most of my friends, but it was hard to maintain. Sharing a bench at the park while our children played, my façade began to crack.
“I’m so afraid of what might happen,” I confessed. “What if God doesn’t come through? What if David is unemployed for years? What if we lose our house, or I have to go back to work full time? What if we have to stop homeschooling and send the kids to public school?”
Like a tiny leak that destroys a mighty dam, once one fear broke through, the flood came. My kind friend listened, nodded, and acknowledged that my fears were valid and real. She shared a story about a similar period of unemployment and how frightened she had been. Then she gently laid her hand on my shoulder and said, “Let’s pray.”
We closed our eyes, and while she prayed, I cried. Not the blubbery, snotty-nosed sobs I’d been crying when I was by myself, these were silent tears of relief. And gratitude. And hope.
I felt relief, because I no longer had to carry my load of fear by myself; she had lifted one corner of my heavy burden. I felt grateful, because she hadn’t condemned me for being afraid. She hadn’t pummeled me with Scripture verses about God’s provision or chided me for worrying. She had empathized and sympathized, but hadn’t judged. And I felt hopeful, because she was talking to the almighty God of the universe on my behalf. She was adding her faith-filled prayers to my weak ones and making them stronger.
Since that first time I made myself vulnerable by sharing something close to my heart with a friend, I've often been blessed by the solidarity of my faith sisters. God has given me a handful of friends to whom I can entrust the intimate details of my life without fear of exposure, judgment, or condemnation. I know I can call them at any time when I need counsel or prayer. They have inconvenienced themselves for me, and I have done the same. My heart safely trusts in them.
I hope you have godly Christian friends like this. If you do, you are rich. If you don’t, it’s time to begin cultivating these types of relationships. They are rich, joyous, and necessary, especially if we hope to successfully navigate the troubled waters of our day.
Here are five suggestions for cultivating a praying friendship:
1. Go where godly women go. Find the godliest woman in your church and ask her which Sunday school class she attends, which Bible study she goes to, or which prayer group she is a part of. Join it. There you will find women who love God and are serious about their relationship with him.
2. Take a risk by reaching out to someone. Invite her out for coffee or to a playdate with the kids. Meet for lunch, invite her and her family over for dinner, or call her on the phone, just to chat.
3. When the time seems right, share something personal. Watch to see how she responds. Is she sensitive? Understanding? Does she respond by sharing something personal about herself? As your friendship develops, you’ll find yourself growing more comfortable and safe. The natural bond God created us to have with other believers will begin to strengthen.
4. Look for ways to love and support your friend. Be a good listener, lend a helping hand when she needs it, and tell her how much her friendship means to you. Friendships, like marriages, take time, effort, and energy to maintain. Don’t take without giving back.
5. If your first (or second, or third) attempts don’t produce a friendship, keep trying. True friendships take a lifetime to mature, but they all begin with first steps.
In my lifetime, many friends have come and friends have gone. Some have moved away, others have drifted away, and others have become invaluable parts of my life. I wouldn’t want to do life without them. We are committed to praying each other all the way through our lives and on into eternity.
What about you? Do you have a praying friend? What did you do to develop your friendship? Share your thoughts in the comment box below. I'd love to hear from you.
|Here are some of my dearest praying friends, celebrating my daughter's engagement.|