It’s finally happened. After 16 years in pastoral ministry, I have a group of friends who are praying regularly with me and for me. I know it sounds crazy that it’s taken so long. Sure, I’ve had friends who have prayed for me over the years, some who have prayed regularly and diligently. But honestly, I’ve never had a group of friends that I meet with regularly, in person, in order to pray for each other. And now, praise the Lord, I do.
The benefits of having friends like these are endless. I know I have a date on the calendar when I’m going to see them next. I know I can tell them anything and they will listen and commit to pray for me. I know they will cry with me and support me when I need it. After a long time of initiating ministry with others, it sure is nice to show up and be a part of a group like this.
Last week one of the benefits became very clear to me. I was sharing with the girls the latest update on our foster-to-adopt journey. They took turns praying for me, out loud, and I was overcome with gratitude as I listened to their prayers. I realized that they were praying for me and any child who might come under my roof with such faith. They believed that God was going to do great things and spoke out loud about it.
That’s when it hit me. I was grateful for their faith, because I realized mine was so small. I know friends who have been waiting to adopt for years, or who have experienced the pain of an disrupted adoption, or who have experienced sad stories with the foster care system, and it has all left me feeling… resigned. Without a lot of hope that anything good will come out of this experience.
As my friends prayed for me, I felt like the man in Mark 9 who brings his seizing son to Jesus. He tells the sad story of how his son has been tormented since childhood with a spirit who seems intent on destroying him. He says to Jesus, “But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us!”
I heard it and I’m sure you did, too. If you can. It didn’t escape Jesus’ notice either: “And Jesus said to him, ‘If you can! All things are possible for one who believes.'”
If you can. I’m afraid I approach Jesus so much with those words on my lips. If you can help me… if you can hear me… But my friends last week? None of that! They asked boldly for God to change the lives of the children he brings into our home. They prayed unreservedly for a child that we can adopt and love until our deaths. They prayed with faith!
Once I heard them, my heart cried out with the father of the boy in Mark 9, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
Later in the story Jesus’ disciples asked him why they couldn’t help the man and his son. Jesus replied, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” Yes. Prayer that is full of faith. Faith that believes that God is listening, and He will answer. I am so glad that when my faith is lagging, I have friends who will pray in my place. Who will cry out what my heart wants to cry but doesn’t out of fear. Friends who will bring me to Jesus.
How’s your faith these days? Need some friends?