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What can be more precious than the friendships the Lord gives? They are not only a great joy in themselves, but are also a strategic resource for the Kingdom.

In this celebration of friendship Ros and I are accompanied by beautiful music by Francis Cummings, a canzona from one of Henry Purcell’s trio sonatas, and Francois Couperin’s ‘Les Bergeries.’

A Sheer Delight
The Psalmist declared, “As for the faithful godly people in the land – they are my true heroes in whom is all my delight.” (Ps. 16:3)

Thank You Lord for tried and trusted friendships – but also for newer ones which in turn quickly become ‘old’ friends.

According to George Elliot, “a friend is one to whom one may pour out the contents of one’s heart, chaff and grain together, knowing that gentle hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.”

How can we ever thank You enough, Lord, for the flagship friendships that You have taken such delight to shape and craft? Especially those with whom we can express matters as we really feel them without any need to check whether we are coming across as too this or too that.

The Power of Friendship
Jesus, as surely as You took a chosen few certain people to be Your close friends, You are looking for us to give our hearts to our close companions. Join us in spirit, with those You would have us come alongside.

‘Friendship redoubles joys and cuts griefs in half.’ (Bacon), and when we feel worn out by trials and upsets we can share our hearts unreservedly with those You have joined us with, because You Yourself dwell in them.

Two are better than one
Each one of us needs an active band of gallant friends in order to fulfil our destiny, give us the vision and determination to make the very most of the precious resource these friendships represent.

Thank You that in Your economy, one plus one equals far more than two. Thank You that when it comes to setting out on some new vision or venture, two are vibrantly better than one! Thank you for all the support we can give each other, and all the ditches that we can pull each other out of.

Seal our friendships with the seal of Heaven and harness us for your purposes.
Thank You that when two or three of us are gathered together to seek Your face so much is brought to birth. Make us fruitful together in many places and situations so that we can have the joy of looking back on many powerful victories that You have brought about because we sought Your face together concerning them.

Sparks and honest counsel
Iron sharpens iron, and we pray that our friendships may spur and sharpen each other on in mind, spirit and morale. (Prov. 27:17)

Thank You Jesus that You knew exactly what each of Your disciples needed. It’s easy to make allowances for friends whom we like, but as Augustine pointed out, ‘No one can be a true friend unless he is first a friend of Truth.’ Help us to gauge when it is right to launch a challenge, and when it is best to let things ride and to leave matters in Your hands.

Help us to recognise each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and to adjust accordingly.

Thank You, for the honest counsel and heartfelt prayer we experience in the safe and sacred place of true friendship. May we give each other the freedom to point out when we are saying or doing unhelpful things.

Send Elijahs into our life to mentor us, Lord, and Elishas whom we in turn can mentor. Show us who we should make the time and effort to reach out to, and then to be willing to make the effort to cultivate such friendships, and to keep them in good repair.

You love to draw out all that is best in friendships, and launch us onto fresh adventures of faith in the power of your risen life. Let our prayers be wind and Spirit-blown – sparking into life initiatives that delight your heart and that You have planned from before the foundation of the world.

When friendships are put to the test . . .
Protect and preserve these precious friendships whenever careless words or misunderstandings threaten them. Let no indifference or rivalry shaft or scupper friendships that are precious to you. Alert us when we have said or done things that need putting right, and give us the willingness to take whatever steps we must to put things right.

Jesus, You said that that everything – and that must certainly include our friendships – must pass through the Refiner’s fire sooner or later and be salted with fire. (Mark 9:49).

Testing times are discovering times and we may never really know where we are in a relationship until some challenge or clash of wills occurs, in which one person is heading in one direction and the other in another, and both are equally convinced that they are in the right.

Thank You so much that unity is not a matter of small print uniformity. May we handle disagreements with maturity, and find ways to overcome awkward edges and apparent incompatibilities. Keep us from allowing minor disagreements to become disproportionately heavy; may we continue to be supportive of each another even when we disagree.

If we can make it our prayer to ask You to attend to the other person’s needs and desires, You will not fail to attend to our own.

Since soul and spirit run so close together, keep us from making impossible demands on one another, and from expecting from others that which only You can provide. Thank You that it is precisely because we have our own relationship with You that we can benefit so much from the company of others.

Reduce our hearts to love; expand our hearts to love.

Thank You for the joy when differences are aired and rifts attended to. Thank You for the stopping place of the cross. For it is here that the air is cleared and the evil one limps as he sees his plans and purposes defeated.

Thank You for the joyful discovery of new depths of trust that come about precisely because we have had to work our way through difficulties.

You come to us so often, Lord Jesus, in the form of human friendship. Take each one of these precious friendships that bear Your stamp and draw us to a yet deeper place with You and with each other.

In the midst of our busyness keep us from becoming so task and project focused that we take friends for granted and neglect the depth of friendship You are developing.

Praying for friends on active service
We pray now for friends who are on the front line, whether in their homes or place of work or ministry. Lord keep up us alert and disciplined to remember them before Your throne and hold them in our prayers especially when trouble is brewing.

When friendships dip from sight . .
And if at any time these God-given partnerships dip from sight for whatever reason, like a vessel far out to sea below the horizon, thank You that by Your Spirit ‘out of sight’ need never be ‘out of mind’.

May we be as passionate as the early Christians were when they prayed for Peter in prison. Increase our awareness when some friend is in distress, and keep us alert to make the effort to get in touch with them.

Father is there anyone You would remind us of to pray for today?
Selah.

Friendship with Jesus
And what is true in earthly friendships may also be true in terms of our relationship with You, Lord. Forgive us if we have been subconsciously expecting You to jump to our demands and to dance to our tune in order to fulfil our hopes and plans – for then we risk being resentful at being left with certain issues to face that we had hoped that You would keep us from, or that You were going to deal with at one fell swoop. May we continue to trust and praise You even in the midst of seemingly unpromising circumstances, for this holds resentment at bay and keeps us from entertaining harsh and wrong thoughts about You.

Jesus, lover of our souls,
we welcome You
into the heart of our homes and friendships.
Let our earthly loves be true.
As we spend time with those we love,
may You draw still nearer.
Let common wit and purpose spur us on:
and nothing come between our love.

 

*See Applying the 80-20 principle: coping with the things we find less appealing in each other.