Confident in This Very Thing

I’m not a good small-talker. Or I should say, when I am, I return home feeling empty and unsatisfied. It’s kind of like going to one of those impressive, gourmet restaurants for dinner. Everything looks fancy and important, the bill is certainly heavy, but when you get home you find yourself looking through the cupboards. That’s why I am so thankful to have a handful of people in my life with whom I can confidently cut right through the small talk. One of these friends came over for lunch last week. Evie and I met through my coffee shop, and then ended up being neighbors (the townhouse kind that shared a front porch). We’ve shared many a cup of mudd during those several years. Now we live about an hour apart and it may be a couple of years in between cups of coffee. Yet we had no problem catching up and sharing some of the trials we’ve been through, rejoicing about how the Lord is so gracious in what he teaches us in these times. As our short afternoon together came to an end, Evie had a great suggestion to keep us close even in our distance. She asked me if I would be willing to exchange personal prayer requests that we could consistently pray for one another. I loved this idea. What a great way to keep a relationship going! It forces us to be honest with ourselves, to check in with one another, and to be actively looking for how God is answering our prayers. Along with the joy I felt in being given this opportunity, I was also immediately aware of its heavy responsibility. She trusted me with a personal prayer request, and I promised to faithfully pray for her on this matter. In essence, we have now vowed to not let ourselves be “I’m okay, how are you? friends,” but rather seek out how the Lord is working in our personal areas of request. I also think of how this arrangement strips away any sinful competitive nature in a friendship. Every day I am to be requesting God’s best for my friend. As I’ve been praying for Evie this week, I have noticed how my thoughts of her have changed as I continue to pray for her need. By this, I mean that I have been really thinking about how God has specially gifted her, as well as where her vulnerabilities may lie. I’m finding that my prayers for Evie are becoming quite detailed, and I am beginning to think about how the Lord may be preparing her for certain things. I’m most likely praying for Evie in a different way than she is for herself. I also am very comforted in the knowledge of her prayers for me in this way. Of course I pray for people all the time, and some of the same people every day. The difference in this prayer is the promise we made to actively and specifically pray for one another as we don’t get to talk much. It has truly been a blessing. It reminds me of Paul’s opening words to the Philippians: I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you with all joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident in this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ (1:3-6). Fellowship of the gospel—that is my joy. And I love the exchange of confidence we give to God in our prayers. It is such a conscious way to turn from ourselves and acknowledge the One who really is in control. As Evie and I were sharing some of our trials, it was so evident how God is really transforming us into the image of his Son. We became friends in our early twenties—with such a false conception about our own abilities and what we were doing for God. Now it is so clear to see how He is the one doing all the gracious working, despite of ourselves. As we pray for one another, our confidence is that he will finish that work which he has begun. And it is a joy to continue an old friendship in this way.