“We are not simply two people helping each other with our own ideas, insights and thoughts.
We are able to sit together in the presence of the living God in that sanctuary of the soul.
Not two, but three. That makes all the difference.”
– Keith R. Anderson
Praying Is Personal
The ladies were listening. One of our own was telling her story. Pain was in her voice. We felt close and wanted to do more than hear and offer encouragement.
So we gathered around her, surrounding her with our hands and hearts, and then with our words to the Father.
Praying is personal.
When our friends are struggling, we pray for them. And they pray for us.
But how often do we pray with each other, not just for each other?
Can praying with our friends be another way to be a better friend?
But I’m Scared to Pray Aloud
Though our hearts may be willing, our egos often block us.
- We may be afraid we’ll stumble over our words if we pray aloud.
- That we won’t know what to say.
- That we won’t do it “right.”
We also may fear it will embarrass our friend. (Always ask permission first!) If it’s not something we normally do together, it may initially feel uncomfortable. Even though three of my closest Christian friends and I since childhood have spent hours and hours talking about God together, only recently have we started talking to God together. It’s a journey.
And what about Matthew 6:5-8 when Jesus warned his disciples against praying in public for praise?
5 And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
These are all definite concerns. But one by one, we can dismantle them all to become a better friend to those we love.
5 Tips for Praying Together
1. Start small.
When you’re first beginning to pray with friends, keep it short. Stay with one topic (pray over a meal, pray about a doctor’s visit). Ask what they’d like prayers for, then pray only for that.
You can even use a prayer script of sorts [here’s one to download]. Or read favorite scriptures as you pray over each other or pray from a prayer book.
2. Use time wisely.
Finding time to pray together is another obstacle, but usually we can take 5 minutes from our ordinary conversations together to talk to God in person. Make a date if you need to. Plan it once or as a recurring event.
But also be spontaneous. When your friend says, “Can you pray for me about this?” Say yes and start praying right then. Just do it.
3. Pray in varied ways.
We don’t have to be face to face to communicate verbally with our friends. Use Facetime or Skype to pray together. My friend Linda and I used to pray together over the phone at 7am on weekday mornings for a season. It brought us closer than we could have imagined. Or swap prayer emails back and forth. Or short texts.
You can even send your prayer through a card via snail mail. Who wouldn’t love to receive that? God hears your prayer when you write it, then He and your friend hear it again when they read it.
4. Be yourself.
Be conversational. Don’t use King James language or try to sound like someone you’re not. Be humble as you pray to avoid the Matthew 6 dilemma of praying only to look good. Refrain from preaching to get a point across to your friend through your prayers. Be gracious and respectful with your words.
If you’re a passionate talker with your friend, be a passionate pray-er with her as well. Or if you’re a quiet, listening type, pray with lots of open pauses and contemplative spaces for God to speak, too. Keep the conversation open between you, your friend, and God. Listen and learn from powerful pray-ers you know, but ultimately be yourself.
5. Expect answers.
God is listening. The Spirit is interceding with words you don’t even know about (Romans 8:26-27). As soon as you and your friend invite God into the conversation, He begins answering.
But you may not see His answer immediately. Maybe not for months. Or even years. But know that He is answering, setting things in motion and moving in His way and in His time, even when we lack the vision to see it.
Rewards of Praying Together
Jesus often prayed alone. But He also prayed with His friends. When we pray with our friends, we’re following in His footsteps and in the example of His first disciples. (See Luke 11:1; Luke 22:39-40; Acts 4:24; Acts 12:12; Acts 16:25)
Because praying is an intimate activity, you’ll grow closer with friends you pray with. Prayer reveals our hearts in ways that regular conversations just don’t.
It won’t be an activity you do regularly with all your friends, but cultivate an inner circle of friends with whom it can become natural.
As you bless others and are blessed by others through praying together, your faith and love for the Lord will grow, too. You’ll learn to ask for things you might not have considered. And you’ll likely see new answers you might not have otherwise seen through prayers you prayed alone (James 5:14-16).
Your Voice Is Unique
Just as you and your friend have unique conversations, so, too, your prayers together with God will be unique. No one will pray the exact words with your friend that you will. Don’t rob someone else of your blessing. And don’t be robbed of being blessed yourself.
Take the challenge and begin praying more with your friends this month, not just for them.
Then watch what God will do!
• How to Bless Your Friends
Friends don’t let friends live unblessed. Don’t let yours go until you bless them.
• 5 Tips on Praying with Your Spouse or Friend
See common roadblocks to praying together and how to overcome them.
• When We’re Afraid to Pray Aloud
No matter how inarticulate we may feel, God knows what we mean.
• 5 Graces When a Woman Prays
Just as female conversations can differ from male conversations, our prayers can, too.
• No Voice Like Yours: An Uncommon Gift
Why your voice is one of the most sacred gifts you can offer.
Have you prayed with a friend lately? Is it easy or hard for you to pray aloud with friends? Please share your experience and tips in the comments.