Morning dawned with salmon streaks across the indigo, and in the first seconds of the day, the heavy cares that had been weighing on my heart were forgotten. The slate was wiped clean and filled with infinite potential for goodness.
And then I remembered. I remembered the worry that had been gnawing on my soul for months, and reality came flashing down like the worst kind of nightmare. Our family was in a season of uncertainty, suffering, and grief, and fear kept me awake at night with spinning thoughts and an aching head.
Forgetting to offer a prayer of trust or surrender to God before starting the day, I stumbled to the kitchen to brew black coffee, pack lunches, and begin the tasks mothers face. Across the room, my phone vibrated with a message, and I wondered who would be texting me before seven a.m.
I don’t remember her exact words, but when I picked up the phone, the message went something like this: You were on my heart this morning, and I figure it’s no accident. I’m praying for whatever you’re facing today, and I’m here if you want to talk.
These two simple statements from a long-time friend ushered me to the couch with a cup of partially brewed coffee at the bottom of my white mug, and I stared dazedly out the window with the acute awareness that God saw me in my pain. He saw me, and He sent His love to touch my heart through the simple words of a friend.
My texting friend joined me on the couch later in the day after the oldest had gone to school and while the youngest drove plastic bulldozers across my lap. She sat with me. She listened more than she advised. We shared tears over the uncertainty of the future and the ache in my heart, and when her car pulled from the driveway, I felt just a little less alone, a little less afraid, a little more confident in the goodness of our God.
This is what our intentional friends do: they point us toward Christ in the midst of our pain, they extend an arm when we’re too weak to stand on our own, and they invest in our lives with consistency.
The friend who carried my burdens with me on that clear-skied morning is loyal, trustworthy, and deliberate in the way she reaches out to me. She is the kind of friend I hope to be to others.
Throughout the past two decades, I’ve been gleaning insight on how to be a deliberate friend to those I love, and I’ve found that intentional prayer is one of the most powerful tools for building strong and lasting relationships. The three prayer principles below remind me to be purposeful about the words I speak and the consistency with which I check in when it comes to my friends:
1. Pay attention to nudges.
The friend who sat with me on the couch recognized I had not come to mind by mere accident, so she checked in with me. God often brings to mind those for whom He wants us to pray.
The next time a friend comes to mind, don’t brush it off. Uplift your friend in prayer and send a message to check in. You might be surprised by the response.
2. Reach out.
Intentional friends reach out. My friend could have offered a quick prayer for me and continued on with her morning. Instead, she paused to check in. Over time, I’ve learned that when a friend comes to mind, it’s usually not a coincidence, and I’ve learned to send a quick message or make a phone call.
Sometimes, I ask her how I can pray. Other times, I simply encourage her or tell her I’m thinking of her. The Spirit of the living God wants to speak to us about our relationships. Our role is to remain attentive to His voice and to be deliberate about reaching out when we sense He might be speaking.
3. Pray strategically.
The basement wall beside my treadmill is adorned with lists of names and photo boards of loved ones. These visual prompts remind me to pray for the people in my sphere of influence daily.
It’s easy to overlook the importance of praying for the people God places in our lives, and a prayer list or prayer board is a helpful tool. I especially appreciate my prayer list, where each day of the week I list five to ten names and pray for a different group of people in my life.
Over time, I’ve learned to do more than simply ramble through a list of requests about God blessing the people set before me. I listen for His whisper more than I pray with words. I often simply imagine lifting each person before the throne of God and wait to see if I feel a nudge to reach out or send a message.
Far too often, I still miss the mark and fail to be the intentional friend I want to be. However, these principles are shaping me, and God is using them to encourage, equip, and edify the friendships in my life.
How can you be an intentional friend to someone today?
This is what our intentional friends do: they point us toward Christ in the midst of our pain. -@staceypardoe: Click To Tweet