What qualities and characteristics exemplify friendship to you? Being a friend is fairly simple; being a good friend is often difficult. Friendship is something that we are all hungry for. In this series, Amber Wackford shares what she feels are essential elements of good friendship, spiritual friendship.

This Part 2 of a three part series from Amber. Access the rest of the series here:

God Loves a Crowded House | Active Participation | The Gift of God


 

 

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” —James 5:16

 

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I’m not sure I can identify when I began to believe in the power of prayer, but I know I was an adult out of college. I was pretty good at faking it up until then. It’s easy to do when you grow up in church and you know what to say to make yourself sound like you’re on the right track.

 

I told people I picked my college and my major because I prayed about it. But really I picked my college because it was twelve hours from home and someplace snowy, and I picked my major because I didn’t want to study anything else. If I prayed about either of those things, it sounded in God’s ears much more like “Please don’t let people give me any guff about this” rather than “Thy will be done.”

 

This is why I’m grateful that God is in the business of making good out of bad, because that may be the story of my life if I consider how many decisions I have made without prayer.

 

I’m not sure when I began to believe that prayer is an essential element of friendship, but I know it took root last January when one of my favorite people on the planet, the mother of a dear friend, was diagnosed with cancer. The prognosis was beyond grim. Doctors told her she had six months if they did nothing, maybe a year with surgery, possibly five if they followed surgery with chemotherapy. Against the prognosis, against the doctors’ best guesses, all of us who loved her prayed for a miracle. And it was the very best thing we could do for her.

 

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For many of us, and certainly for me for much of my life, prayer has felt passive. I prayed while waiting for some call to action, because at least praying was a holy way to bide time. I prayed until I could do something, anything, to help a friend. But, by thinking like that, I cheapened my friendships.

 

I realize now, and I’m grateful to have realized it at all, that what James tells us in his book is true—the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. The call to pray for each other is not just a nice thing we do; it is a loving necessity. Prayer is a healthy component of the best friendships, and it brings with it the power of change. In James’s words, that we might be healed.

 

The call to pray for each other is not just a nice thing we do; it is a loving necessity.

 

My friend’s mom, for example, had surgery to remove her tumor. And when the doctors biopsied it, they discovered no cancer in it and no cancer remaining in her body. “It looks as if it were never there,” they told her. My friend and her mom are quick to praise God as the Great Physician, and just as quick to acknowledge the power of prayer. They believe her healing came about as a direct result of the hundreds of people who loved her and were praying for a miracle.

 

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I’m a big fan of demonstrative friendship. By that I simply mean I like showing up for my friends, and I like when my friends show up for me, and I like watching other people show up for each other. It’s all part of the being-the-hands-and-feet-of-Jesus thing. We honor God when we take care of our brothers and sisters. There’s no getting around it, we have to be active participants in one another’s lives. Friends have their noses in each other’s business.

 

We honor God when we take care of our brothers and sisters. There’s no getting around it, we have to be active participants in one another’s lives.

 

I’m convinced that prayer is a big part of this. The world is a hard place sometimes, and far too many situations can’t be helped solely by human effort. Death, cancer, miscarriage, divorce, unemployment, depression, terminal illness, mental illness—these pieces of each other’s burdens are too heavy to carry in our own strength, so we have to reach out for God’s in prayer. Some places in the human heart are wounded so deeply that we can’t reach them in another person, no matter how kind or gracious or loving we are, so we ask God to go there for our friends. When we pray, we place God at the center of our friendships and take each other into the presence of Jesus. And when we do that, we’re being the best friends we possibly can be.

Active Participation

 


 

 

This Part 2 of a three part series from Amber. Access the rest of the series here:

God Loves a Crowded House | Active Participation | The Gift of God