I told my dad they’d start streaming in late afternoon, and so they did. One by one, three of my closest friends from high school each kissed a toddler goodbye for the evening, told a husband not to wait up, or packed a newborn in a car seat before heading off for my parents’ place for holiday dinner leftovers and overdue catching up.
Back in the day, I used to sit with these girls to weep over boys who didn’t return our love, to obsess over college and career plans, to discuss the types of women we hoped to become. Each girl took her turn in sharing her joys or frustrations, and we’d often part with the promise to keep one another in our prayers or—in some cases—we’d close our get-together with a prayer on the spot.
There was a time when I wasn’t sure how these relationships would weather, especially as I moved miles away and developed a more liberal outlook—both spiritually and politically. I worry about that less and less each time we get together, and our meeting the other night seemed to be solid evidence that, regardless of doctrine or what it says on our voter registration, we remain connected by the broad strokes of faith—by a shared Higher Power and a shared belief in His amazing love.
Because I’m the out-of-towner, I usually get the credit for bringing everyone together again when I ask to catch up over the holidays. Nevertheless, I think we all know that our connectedness began in the hands of God and it’s that very special spiritual bond that draws us back together, no matter how the years change us and sweep us into new and unfamiliar lives.
It’s so easy to view prayer as a purely personal experience, but I believe that God uses our prayer communities to keep us grounded and to give us a real and concrete reminder of what His love looks like. There are moments when prayer is best for dark corners and quiet rooms, but there’s a lot to be said for the interpersonal bond of faith.
The friends You have given me
bring explosive joy.
They bring laughter and hope.
They hold and support me
through trials and uncertainty.
They give me a sense of purpose
by allowing me the opportunity
to be an encouragement to them.
Through my friends,
You have given me
the unparalleled gift of community.
I thank You now for the love
I have received today–
for Your love and my friends– love,
which are in so many ways
one and the same.