Years ago, my husband and I moved into a house in the Black Hills neighborhood of Grand Rapids, Michigan. We quickly realized we were in over our heads. The basement leaked. A window on the second floor was leaking water into the ceiling of our kitchen. The deck was falling off the house. And on and on.
I was discouraged but didn’t want anyone to know. I kept smiling telling people I was all right, that everything was fine. But nothing was fine. A war had been started in my soul and I didn’t want to tell anyone because I was ashamed, thinking maybe we were being punished or that we were just plain foolish for buying a broken house.
Slowly, slowly I found myself falling away from the faith. We had friends, but none I felt I could share such a deeply personal, hurtful, and what I thought was a shameful struggle.
But we aren’t meant to travel alone. I’ve talked about how important it is to be connected (See: Created for Connection) and last week about having Christian friends (See: The Importance of Christian Friends) but I feel it’s also important to discuss what it means to have a prayer partner.
Just before Jesus was arrested He prayed for His disciples and all those who would come to believe in Him through their words, you and me. He longed for them to be united because only through unity could they spread the Gospel message throughout the world. He prayed to His Father:
“The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”John 17:22-23
Having a prayer partner is about unity in the Body of Christ. It’s about sharing and bearing one another’s burdens to preserve the faith and to spread the gospel. A prayer partner is more than a friend. They are someone who is trustworthy even with issues of the most sensitive nature. Prayer partners catch us when we’re falling, even if it’s just a slip. They remind us of God’s faithfulness, sharing tears and lifting prayers in our time of need. Prayer partners rejoice and celebrate with us in our victories, knowing that a victory for us is a victory for them and the Body of Christ.
A prayer partner is someone we trust with our lives – trust to listen without judgment and to celebrate without jealousy. They are the people who when they say they will pray for us, we know they actually will. They are the people we can message early in the morning and late at night, knowing that our urgent concerns are their urgent concerns and the prayers will start as soon as they are requested.
A couple Sundays back a friend approached me just prior to the service. She asked for prayer just for all the craziness of life and swirling in her mind. I didn’t wait. During the first song, I prayed she would find healing through the worship. I prayed she would find comfort in the message. And I prayed she would feel the strength of my prayers, agreeing with her in her time of need.
I partnered with her on that Sunday. And she has partnered with me countless times, lifting up my prayers as if they were her own.
Finding a prayer partner is risky. It means being vulnerable and putting yourself and your weakness out there for another believer. It will hurt, the first time. Maybe the second time too. Only because it’s a break with our tendency to hold everything inside, to pretend our life is perfect, and that we don’t struggle. We may get burned a time or two, finding that person who can give and take, hold us up and hold us back when needed.
But it will be worth it. Jesus prayed for us to have people we can journey with. It is His desire for us to find other sisters and brothers in Christ who we can unite with in the fight.
I pray you have found the person or people who you can unite with as prayer partners. If not, I pray you will risk the pain to find the comfort of another believer who has your back.
Jesus, free us from our self-consciousness and our desire to appear perfect. Give us the strength to dive deep in relationship with other believers. May we risk vulnerability to find others who can partner with us, giving us strength for the journey. In Your Holy Name we pray, amen.