Proverbs 18:24 “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly…” this is the mantra I repeat to my children when they are playing with each other or their friends. The verse goes on to say, “and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” I want to teach my children that simply being friendly and kind to others will build life-long friendships! Another wonderful verse is Proverbs 17:17 “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” When I think of the most friendly and loving thing I can do for my friends, I think of prayer. Every day, whether it be through social media or by word of mouth, we hear of a friend that is going through a difficulty or trial. Whether it is big or small, our hearts are burdened to do something for our friend in need but sometimes there is not much we can do. Distance, time, or finances can limit our ability to help in a physical manner. So, we say, “All I can do is pray” as though it is the least we can do. What if we thought of it a different way? What if we considered prayer as the most we could do? Before our friends need a meal, before they need flowers, before they need financial help, they need prayer! God has been doing a work in my heart on the beautiful gifts of prayer and friendship. Today, I hope to encourage you as we answer the questions of why, when, and how to pray for your friends.
- Why should we pray for our friends?
God does comfort us in our tribulations, and He calls us to comfort others as well. In II Corinthians 1:3-4, Paul says He is, “The God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation.” Verse 4 goes on to say, “That we may be able comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” That word “comfort” is mentioned five times in those verses so it must be important! The dictionary defines comfort as “the easing or alleviation of a person’s feelings of grief or distress.” We are instructed to comfort, to ease the grief, of others. I am sure we would all agree that when we are going through a trial or just having a hard day, it is comforting to know that someone is praying for us!
Praying for our friends will bring us JOY! I am sure we can all remember the Sunday School phrase of Jesus first, others second, yourself last. What does that spell? J-O-Y! Praying for others takes the focus off ourselves and places it on others. Also, by taking our friends’ requests to the Lord we are focusing on the One who can answer their request and our prayers. John 15:9-11 “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” We are commanded by Jesus to love one another. It is loving to bring your friend and their requests to God in prayer. By doing so God will give us full JOY!
We can help carry our friends’ burdens. Galatians 6:2 “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” The best way to bear or carry your friend’s burden is to help them take it to Christ through prayer. The “law of Christ” (John 14:34) is that we should love one another as He loves us. It is loving to pray for our friends!
2. When should we pray for our friends?
As soon as possible! The beauty of prayer is that we can do it anytime and anywhere! We should pray “without ceasing.”
Romans 1:9 “For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;”
I Thessalonians 1:3 “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God our Father;”
I Thessalonians 5:17 “Pray without ceasing.”
- A friend posted a prayer request on social media…stop and pray!
- A friend texts or messages you a prayer request…stop and pray!
- A friend calls you or tells you a prayer request in person…stop and pray with them!
- If you have many requests, make a prayer schedule.
- Put a list of names near your kitchen sink and pray while you wash the dishes (I hand wash my dishes…I am at my sink a lot!). Put a list in the bathroom, or wherever you get ready, and pray.
- Set an alarm to pray for the friend that told you something difficult was happening on a certain day at a certain time.
We do not need to wait for our friends to have a request before we pray for them. Pray for that friend that has not made a request or that you have not heard from in a while; they may be going through something private or too difficult to share. They may not be in a trial right now, but God is most likely preparing them for one. Send a text or write a note and tell them that you have been thinking of and praying for them. As a mom with three kids, I can tell you those sweet, little notes brighten my day!
3. How should we pray for our friends?
Philippians 1:3-6 “I thank God upon every remembrance of you, Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” These verses are a wonderful example of how to pray for your friends. When it comes to more specific prayer requests, how you pray for someone will largely depend as to why you are praying for them. A friend that recently suffered a loss will need prayer for God’s comforting presence. A friend that is trying to buy a house will need prayer for God’s guidance and wisdom. Pray for each friend according to their life circumstances. Sometimes we do not know all the details…God does and that is all that matters. One of the Holy Spirit’s jobs will come into play here as well. Romans 8:26 “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” When the task of prayer seems too difficult to bear, all we need to do is cry out to God. He will still hear those prayers when our words fail us.
I love to use Scripture when I pray…nothing is better than the truth of God’s Word! Here are a few examples. Pray that they will:
- Have confidence in God’s will: Proverbs 14:26; I John 5:14
- Delight in God’s will: Psalm 37:4; Psalm 37:23; Psalm 40:8
- Have peace: Romans 15:13; II Corinthians 1:2; Philippians 4:7
- Trust God: Psalm 5:11; Psalm 9:10; Proverbs 3:5-6
- Stay strong in the Lord: Joshua 1:7; I Corinthians 15:58
It is a small list, but I hope it helps give you ideas on how to pray for your friends! A great way to encourage your friend is to send a text, private message, or a hand-written note and tell them that you are praying for them. Send them a verse that will remind them of God’s love and goodness. If your friend lives close enough to you, invite them to your home or go out for coffee and pray with them. Strive to be a blessing!
Do not neglect to pray for the friend that has hurt you. I Peter 3:8-9 “Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: But contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.” Praying for our friend that has hurt us will also help keep any roots of bitterness from springing up and destroying us. Hebrews 12:14-15 “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.” This verse makes me think about how we can ruin our testimony to our unsaved family, friends, co-workers, or neighbors. When you are bitter inside, it will eventually start to show on the outside. Do not let bitterness destroy your testimony! Put bitterness away from you (Ephesians 4:31 “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice;”) and follow Jesus’ example of seeking the lost (Luke 19:10 “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost”). Pray about how you can reach out and witness to them. Pray that God will give you wisdom and boldness!
Finally, ask God to help you pray faithfully for your friends. James 5:16b “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” Sometimes we will pray for a friend but maybe we will never know the outcome of those prayers. It can also be difficult to pray for someone for years and not see your prayers answered. God always answers prayers. His answer may not be the one you or your friend wanted, but we can have full confidence that no matter His answer He is good!
The apostle Paul wrote of “making mention” of his friends in prayer. (Ephesians 1:16; I Thessalonians 1:2; Philemon 1:4). He did not neglect to pray for his friends; he is an excellent example to us! I also believe prayer will make our friendships stronger because it will unify us together with God. Psalm 133:1 “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”