I know that I missed a week in posting a friendship challenge post. It’s not that i haven’t thought about it every single day, but last week was one of those weeks where I couldn’t write. When time allowed, the words weren’t there.
I’ve learned a lot over the past couple of years when it comes to writing, and one of the most important things is to not publish blog posts unless I feel God guiding and inspiring me to do so. There have been far too many times in everyday life that I have talked for the sake of talking and done damage with my words, and that’s one of the things I love about writing. It’s a chance for me to really think before I “speak.”
As we enter into the last few days of October, I want to finish off this challenge with a excerpt from my book, Trend Breakers: Discovering and Choosing True Friendship in a Lonely World. I have grown to value prayer more and more each year that I live and in each challenge that arises in my life and the lives of those I love. It’s vital! My challenge to you this week is to ask God who He would have you earnestly pray for this week. I can’t begin to tell you how honored I would be if you would send me an email letting me know how I can pray for you as well.
Now here’s some more thoughts on the power of prayer in friendships:
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people. ~1 Timothy 2:1
I remember being a newlywed sitting next to my husband in Sunday school class. Our teacher began the lesson by sharing a realization that had struck him that week, and it immediately spoke to me as well. He had run into a friend who had recently requested that he pray for a certain request. Our teacher realized as soon as he saw the friend that he hadn’t been praying as he promised because it slipped his mind, and he knew that he had to begin changing this problem.
As I listened to my teacher’s account, I felt the sadness wash over me. I was guilty of the exact same “I’ll pray for you as long as I don’t forget” syndrome, and it broke my heart. Far too often, “I’ll pray for you” becomes a Christian catch phrase with no merit behind it, and I will no longer settle for it. From that time, I’ve made it a point to not make that statement without actually doing it first. If it’s a situation that requires continued intercession, I write it down so I do not forget.
In those times when I don’t know how to help a friend with a certain situation she is facing, prayer is honestly the greatest gift I can offer. Let’s look back at Jesus. In the hours before His arrest and subsequent crucifixion, He took His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane and asked all of them to pray with Him. (Matt 26:36-44)
Prayer for friends works. Even when the circumstances seem dire, God is there to honor our faithfulness to pray for others.
Take Job for example. The man’s story is familiar: he was wealthy beyond description, lost it all in one day, and then had some well-meaning friends come in and offer their advice. In the end, Job got real with God and in the process heard the LORD’s humbling and moving reply about what our roles are versus God’s. If you’ve heard the story then you know that it ends happily: God restores Job’s riches to him twofold. But did you know that nestled in the beginning of this happy ending for Job there is a profound revelation to glean about prayer in friendship?
The poor counsel brought to Job by his three friends did not go unnoticed by God. In fact, in Job 42:7, God told the three men that He was angry at them for speaking in a way that failed to honor and portray Him correctly. He then ordered them to present a sacrifice before God in the presence of Job and to allow Job to pray on their behalf.
There are a myriad of lessons regarding friendship to learn from this particular account in Job. The three friends were dead wrong, and they chose to acknowledge their mistakes and humbly present themselves before God in the presence of the very person whom they wronged. What a humbling experience for the three friends! Then there’s Job. If I were him, I would undoubtedly be nursing some hurt feelings towards these three. Legitimately hurt, Job received from God the responsibility to pray on their behalf.
While this wouldn’t be my initial reaction, God didn’t consult Job on what he felt like doing. An infinitely wise God understood that to pray for someone truly does begin mending the hurts in our own hearts. God wanted to punish the men, but He left their fate up to the prayer of Job. While He made clear that they deserved severe punishment, God expected Job to pray for mercy for his friends, otherwise He would punish them as they deserved. (Job 42:8)
When Job made the decision to move past his own hurt feelings and pray for God’s mercy on the three men, God immediately took action. He accepted Job’s prayer: something for which the three were grateful, I’m sure.
Then, God went a step further. Read carefully this verse to see what God did next.
“And the LORD restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends.” (Job 42:10)
When did God choose to restore Job’s blessings? When he prayed for his friends. Not immediately after He and Job had their personal connection or when Job had completed a list of repentant steps. After all that Job went through, God chose to bless him after he prayed for his friends.
Can you apply this to your life? Is there a friend who, if you are being honest, has hurt you more than you can express? Perhaps they meant well just as Job’s friends did, but their advice wasn’t what you needed to hear. Whatever the case may be for you, I believe that God made sure this portion of Job’s story was included so that we could learn an important lesson: Pray for our friends, even when it isn’t easy. Not only will they receive blessings from it, but we cannot comprehend what kinds of blessings God will bestow upon us for bringing their needs before His throne.
Want to read more of Trend Breakers? It is currently available for the Kindle here, but if you are interested in reading it on another digital device, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can email it to you as well.