About a year ago, life got very hard for three of my close friends. Hard as in, barely able to cope. Hard as in losing your spouse (2 of them through divorce and one is now a widow). Hard like recurring anxiety, health problems, depression and financial difficulties. Oh, and just throw in adult children getting married (planning weddings), having brain surgery, cancer scares, and one who is moving to another country for two years.
How do you help one friend, much less three, go through that kind of year? You just can't. It is too much. There is only one Friend who can help. And He does.
I have been praying for these friends and I have a group of online friends praying for them too. Just lately we have all been in the same small group that meets at my house. Totally unplanned, but absolutely by Divine arrangement, there are two women who are also in our group who have gone through divorce earlier in life and are a testimony of God's care and faithfulness. Even when things in our lives don't go as planned, He is faithful to take care of us and love us.
Lately I have been noticing just how much God has done in the past year in these friends' lives. Despair is starting to lift and joy is slowly returning to each of them. There are still a lot of hard days, but the despair seems to have faded. God has graciously taken care of them and answered prayers for jobs, children, health and finances. He is amazing. He has amazing love for His people.
Last week after small group one of these dear friends asked me how I was doing with a recent health issue. Then she said, "Oh I've been praying for you....wait a minute, let's pray NOW. Come on!" So she and another one of these friends joined hands and prayed with such faith and understanding that when they finished, the other woman holding hands with us just said, "Woah...oh wow," and then continued on with her prayer.
It was such a gift.
The friends I have been walking through their own valleys with this year were lifting ME up (and doing a great job of it). Besides feeling God's power and care, I felt their love for me while they prayed. It was overwhelming. I definitely think there is greater power in prayer when it comes from a place of sincere love and not obligation....love for God and also for the person you are praying for. Love and understanding. These ladies have seen the power of prayer this past year and were pouring the faith they have gained into ministering to me.
Colossians 4:2 says, Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.
....a mind alert to what the Spirit is telling you to pray for and a thankful heart because you remember what He's done for you.