It happens on the second Friday night of every month. Dinner with three girlfriends.
One of us is single, two of us are married with teenage children, and one of us is married with grown children. We all love Jesus and seek to live for Him. And we have called each other friend for decades.
On a recent Friday night, I came with a heavy heart. Apparently it also showed on my face. My friends asked me to explain and then listened to my story as tears filled their eyes. With my last words still lingering on my tongue, one friend said, “Could we pray for you?”
“Oh, yes. Please!”
So while other diners continued to talk and laugh loudly, we bowed our heads together and started praying out loud.
What a holy moment of friendship mixed up with chopped salad! How it calmed my soul.
It happened, in part, because we made time for each other. We all have busy lives, but we know the strength and comfort that comes from our together-time so we make it happen the second Friday of every month.
It also happened because we have learned to talk honestly and transparently with each other and trust each other with the hard stuff. I knew my pain would stay with my friends and not show up on Facebook.
And finally, we walk with each other toward Jesus, often through prayer, both private and public.
These praying-out-loud events in the middle of restaurants do not come easily to me. Most of my praying happens in the privacy of my living room in my comfy chair with my dog lying on my foot. I feel somehow exposed when I pray in public.
And yet it is growing on me. If I encountered flames, I would stop, drop, and roll. So shouldn’t I respond with some sort of immediate reaction when I encounter a friend’s sorrow, grief, or deep pain?
If I believe that prayer makes a difference, then it should come as naturally to me as breathing. Right? Instinctive and immediate.
Shouldn’t prayer matter so much that everything else around me fades into the background? Even a noisy restaurant.
James 5:16-18 challenges me:
Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. Elijah, for instance, human just like us, prayed hard that it wouldn’t rain, and it didn’t—not a drop for three and a half years. Then he prayed that it would rain, and it did. The showers came and everything started growing again.
I feel so fortunate to have girlfriends with whom I can regularly eat, and laugh, and cry. And pray. Anytime. Anywhere.