Jun 29 – The Prayer Letter this week is on the Blog article on Friendship and is part of our wider church focus on this subject. Our Church Mission Statement is:
Developing a Whole Life Centre with a heart for the community where people meet God through Jesus, find life and make friends. A church that is willing to change and take risks in order to partner with God in building His Church in Telford and the World
Father, our mission statement includes the aim that we will seek to develop a whole life centre that creates a community of believers. Little did we realise when we wrote this that we were about to enter this period of unprecedented change and challenge. Thank You that Your Spirit led us to write these aims preparing us for the mixture of online ministry we were about to be released into during the Covid-19 Lockdown, and the impact that was going to have on our gathered church. Our church has become a whole-life centre online, through video small groups, texts, emails, messages and phone calls. Bless each person in our church and may each one continue to walk with the Lord Jesus, walk in the Spirit and remain connected to each other in this virtual world.
A few weeks ago I wrote a blog focussing on the problem of using the language of ‘them and us,’ then last week I followed up on this focussed on friendship. Lord, instead of seeing ourselves as part of a common Humanity – many dehumanise those who are different to them. We confess that injustice and racial prejudice continue, recognising that these are also global problems, but are destroying and adversely affecting so many lives. Lord, we pray for a godly reformation of our society so that biblical principles for life and society transform the lives of many leading to new hope, purpose and life.
We pray that Your Church may be guided and anointed by the Spirit to be able to speak prophetically into the cry for racial justice and equality bringing Your perspective. We pray that the language and attitude of ‘Them and Us’ manifesting online and in many of the comments in the Media, will be exposed for what it is: divisive, unhelpful and fueling further disunity. We pray instead for the language of ‘us together’ seeking to create a platform for reconciliation and understanding leading to a new season of dialogue, hope and progress towards a better future. We know this is only truly and perfectly possible in Christ. May Your salvation flow down like a mighty river transforming the hearts and outlook of men, women, young people and children from every race, culture and background. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Jun 30 – Father, the Bible has a lot to say about the Last Days and how terrible society in general will be. Paul’s words to Timothy (2 Timothy 3:1-5, NLT), about the nature of society in the days before Christ comes back, are worth reading:
‘You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. 2For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. 3They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. 4They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. 5They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!’
Lord, we are living in difficult times for Your people – it is difficult and unpopular to stand for biblical principles for morality, integrity, lifestyle and society. We pray that the ministries of our church online and in person will expose and present a better way for life instead of the selfishness, greed, arrogance, rebellion against You, and governing authorities, family strife, blasphemous words and behaviour, lack of self-control, cruelty, pride, unforgiveness and holding to a form of anti-Christ religion which are prevalent today.
‘They will betray friends’ is a terrible indictment. Whereas in Hebrew thought, the basis for biblical friendship was that each one of us must also obey You, then everything else in the friendship was built on that shared commitment to You and Your ways. The image the Bible uses regularly is of two souls knit together in the bond of friendship (Deut 13:6). The second image is that of a friendship of face to face encounter, a meeting of minds, conversation and a sharing of confidences. Moses spoke face to face with You as a man speaks to his friend (Exodus 33:11). May we be faithful, godly, loving and true friends. In Jesus’ name. Amen
Jul 1 – Father, Christ is still the ultimate hope for each person. As we think about moving from a ‘them and us’ society towards a more ‘we are in this together’ one – this is only truly possible, as You originally intended, when a person is born again in Christ. Jesus stated that the first and greatest commandment is to love You with all our heart, soul and mind, and the second equally important one is to love our neighbour as ourself (Matthew 22:34-40).
Grant us the mercy, grace, power and love to be able to live out these two great commandments. Most people quote the second commandment without ever referring to the implications of the first. It is only as we truly love You, only possible by a living, real relationship with Christ, are we then enabled to love our neighbour and ourselves without prejudice, selfishness or ulterior motives. Lord, we pray for a whole-life commitment to the cause of Christ for each person in our church, in the lives of those who are joining us online, their families, loved ones, friends, neighbours and work colleagues, and for all who will join us in the coming days, months and years. In Jesus’ name. Amen
Jul 2 – John 15:12-15 in The Passion Translation, “So this is My command: Love each other deeply, as much as I have loved you. 13For the greatest love of all is a love that sacrifices all. And this great love is demonstrated when a person sacrifices his life for his friends.
14You show that you are my intimate friends when you obey all that I command you. 15I have never called you ‘servants,’ because a master doesn’t confide in his servants, and servants don’t always understand what the master is doing. But I call you My most intimate friends, for I reveal to you everything that I’ve heard from My Father.”
It is helpful to know that the Greek word for ‘friend’ in John 15, is philos. Philos, a friend who has affection for, an associate; philia is also the root for phileo, another Greek word for love. Phileo love is a deep affection for another that produces deep meaningful friendships, affection, comradeship, or a family-like interest in another person. Therefore, it is often translated as brother, sister or brethren. In Romans 12:10, Paul joins phileo and storge to create the compound word philostorgoi to show that, in Christ, we are brothers and sisters, and together part of God’s family. In the passage the word for love is agape.
Father, show us what it means to be a true friend. We proclaim that friendship with You is the basis for developing balanced, healthy and love-filled human friendships. Everything we need to learn about being good at the personal and relational are developed as we walk with the Lord Jesus.
We pray for the following three things to develop in our friendships:
- Love – friends, phileo love you – when it’s easy to do so and also when it is difficult. This love does not overlook nor condone illicit behaviour, it challenges it when appropriate but it is our strength for life. May this love be the basis for our friendships.
- Mutuality – friends encourage each other, support each other, are accountable to each other and grow in character together. May this ‘standing shoulder to shoulder’ be the strength of our friendships.
- Responsibilities – they share life together. May each one take seriously this call to pray for, walk together and share their lives. In Jesus’ name. Amen
Jul 3 – Father, it is important to reflect on the power of friendship to change the prevailing ‘Then and Us’ narrative – there is power in being intentional about making friends – the power to heal division and create a bond of trust. Grant us the grace we need.
Lord, help us to understand the nature of friendship, what is involved at every stage, and how to become intentional in developing this most human bond. In John 15, Jesus’ commands are distilled to one central one: ‘love each other.’ Later this is reinforced in verse 17, ‘This is My command: Love each other.’ Jesus begins to focus on the implications of this command – personal sacrifice for the sake of another. He also gave a comparison between a friend and a servant/slave – a servant follows orders, whereas You confide Your counsel with us, Your friends, and empower us to share in Your purpose – this is something the slave is never party to.
Jesus revealed Your counsel/word to His disciples and by doing so He changes how we look upon one another – we are part of Your family. We proclaim that our standing in Christ has the power to change our understanding of our relationship with You, and how we develop our friendships with others. Help us to be wise and discerning, and prophetically anointed, as a church and individuals within it, to bring Your perspective and Your truth on this topic into the lives of all who we engage with us in person and online. In Jesus’ name. Amen
Jul 4 – Father, It helps us to understand the nature of friendship, what is involved at every stage, and how to become intentional in developing this most human bond. I have listed six levels and will pray into each today and tomorrow:
1. The first stage is the most basic Human Interaction – a person who we say hello to when our paths cross – a totally non-personal interaction and which is not relationally based. Father, we pray for each person who comes across our paths. The pray these three things for them: 1. Their salvation in Christ; 2. To have a revelation of Your love for them in Christ, and Your willingness to draw them to Yourself; 3. That Kingdom principles for life which are full of purpose and meaning, under the inspiration and fullness of the Spirit, may be their principles for life. In Jesus’ name. Amen
2. The second level is Facebook Friends who are only friends on Social Media. This is often only a surface deep friendship when you get to see what the person wants you to see. Sometimes people send friend requests on Social Media because you are connected to someone else – sometimes it is because they believe they will gain something from you – other times it can be that some of the people on Facebook only have online ‘friends’ and the more people they say they have as Facebook friends, the better they feel about themselves. Rarely do our interactions on Social Media platforms become personal or relational. We pray that our posts and comments online will be full of wisdom, biblical understanding, love and balance. As we engage with people online – may Your presence, peace and power be the hallmark of what we reveal of ourselves because we are filled with your Spirit and word. Sanctify Social Media bringing it under the dominion and lordship of Christ. Amen
3. An Acquaintance who we meet at times and talk to because we live in the same street, work together in the same company, or socialise in the same venue. This is still a non-personal and non-relational stage. We pray for a revival, a great awakening to occur in the lives, families, and workplaces of all who live in our streets, who live in our neighbourhoods, town, borough, County and nation. In Jesus’ name. Amen
Jul 5 – The closer bonds of friendship revealed in the next three stages:
4. The Casual Friend stage is when we start to develop what could be termed as a friendship. This stage usually happens around work, an activity, hobby or in church. We can talk to each other about the things that we are jointly interested in. It is still a non-personal and non-relational human engagement. If the person is no longer around – we will never contact them nor keep in touch, we soon forget they ever existed. Father, thank You for those people, in our lives, at this stage of friendship. As we engage with each other around our shared interests – may we strengthen and encourage each other. We pray that these friendships will indeed develop further so that we can share Your love, grace and truth with them. In Jesus’ name. Amen
5. Friend stage is when we begin to invest emotional capital into the friendship – we begin to plan our meet ups, share more of ourselves, and develop bonds of trust; willing to share our pain, joy, hopes and weaknesses with others. Trust becomes deeper and we are drawn into a common bond of seeking to help the other to reach their goals, understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and are willing to hold each other accountable. Father, we pray for each friend – bless and uphold them. As we share life together, may we strengthen and enrich each other. Fill them with your Spirit if they are in Christ – we pray for their salvation if they are not yet saved. In Jesus’ name. Amen
6. Close Friend is a rare stage. We only have a relatively few of these levels of friendship during our lives. The people we develop this level of friendship with are often friends for the rest of our lives who know us, sometimes better than we know ourselves. They see that part of us that we are ignorant about because we only see ourselves from within, but they also have the perspective of seeing the bits of us that we are oblivious to. There is a vulnerability to this friendship, and yet great strength in it. It is completely personal and relationally based. Father, thank You for the close friendships we have. You have brought us together and we thank for the bond of togetherness and grace we have. Equip us to be good role models of integrity, faith and courage in life. We pray for protection and strength for our close friends. In Jesus’ name. Amen