Jul 6 – The Prayer Letter this week is on the Blog article on ‘Friendship in the Bible,’ and is part of our wider church focus on this subject.
There are two basic images for friendship in the Bible: 1. A close friendship wherein two people are knit together soul to soul – David and Jonathan are the ultimate example. 2. Walking together with others around a greater purpose or common cause – Jesus and His Disciples.
Father, thank You for these examples of friendship in Scripture; Your word also gives us detail about how You enabled people to walk with You – how You counted them Your friends – Your promise and their faith was the basis.
Christian friendship is presented in the New Testament, union with Christ being the bond that drew people together. The New Testament also takes this further because in Christ that we are part of His family. This means that our relationships with each other area witness to the world of Christ’s presence and redemption at work in us; therefore we are told to keep the unity of Your Spirit with our brothers and sisters in Christ through the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3). We are part of Your family in Christ, brothers and sisters together – Christian friendship is family based.
Lord Jesus, You are the perfect role model for friendship. Your example and teaching lay the very foundation for human friendship. However, only when we are in You, with a living relationship with God, are we capable of being the type of friend to others that the Bible counsels us to be.
Lord, today we pray for four things:
- A clear, biblical understanding of the cost of being a good friend to others – to love them sincerely at all times
- We pray for the help and grace we need in order to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace
- For the Spirit’s guidance and wisdom so we can follow the pathway of Christ in all of our relationships
- To bring all our friendships under the authority and Kingship of Christ so that in every human interaction we honour the Lord, and walk in His righteousness and truth. Amen
Jul 7 – Father, the very fact that it is possible for people to have a close, living relationship with You, their Creator is wonderful. There are three examples above all others in the Old Testament:
- Enoch walked with You and eventually was translated to heaven (Genesis 5:21-24).
- It says that Abraham was Your friend whose faith and obedience meant he became the Patriarch of the Jewish people (2 Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23).
- Moses talked with You face to face as a man talks to his friend and thereby received Your Law, and directions for leading Israel out of bondage in Egypt (Exodus 33:11).
These are three wonderful examples of Your willingness to humble Yourself and connect, at a personal level, with people of faith who knew You as their God. It demonstrates Your love for the men mentioned, You were willing to be called their friend. However, for each one of them it must have been daunting to have You, their Creator, as friend.
Neither one of these three could have met with You on their own terms – it always had to be on Your terms. You were the one who had to step furthest towards them. You were willing to build a friendship with them in spite of the fact that they were still sinners. You didn’t destroy them because of their sin and lack of purity – their faith was the basis of their righteousness and grounds on which You engaged with them. You accepted their faith and as a result accounted them as righteous in Your sight – this enabled them to meet You on the grounds of their living faith.
Today, as we are praying about friendship with You – we ask for the anointing on our church’s ministries, in person and online, and on each person in our church, that will enable us to pray for Your Kingdom to come and Your will to be done in the lives of each person we engage with, minister to, and pray for.
Raise up many men, women, young people and children in and through our church who will be able to walk with You, in Christ, as Your friend. A large group of people who will abide in Christ, and bring pleasure to You because of their faith. In Jesus’ name. Amen
Jul 8 – I wonder – have you ever thought about what meeting with God would be like? When someone we really respect is coming to our house, we usually clean and tidy up, and make sure everything is presentable. We are usually on our best behaviour, respectful and careful to really listen to what they are saying. We think about their needs, check about their dietary requirements, how long they have to be with us, and make them the focus, not ourselves.
If we do that for a special person coming to our home – imagine how Enoch, Abraham and Moses felt every time they met with God. It is certainly the case with both Abraham (Genesis 18), and Moses (Exodus 3), God turned up unexpectedly – they were not even prepared for His arrival.
Father, it is amazing that You were willing to call them friends. It is a further example of how all of human interaction, and our society’s greatest blessings, originated in You. Together in the Trinity, Father, Son and Spirit, You have a perfect friendship – a perfect oneness, You are of the same substance, character and nature.
Lord, thank You for the revelation in Scripture of how You interact and connect with each other at levels we cannot even dream off. Mutual love, understanding, enjoyment of each other’s company, perfect respect, absolute commitment to each other, and a whole-hearted commitment to the redemption of human beings, through the Son, are just some of the aspects of the relationship in the Trinity.
As You in Trinity stand perfectly together in everything, perfectly complementing each other’s ministry, working together shoulder to shoulder in everything – we pray for the mercy, grace, favour and anointing needed to reflect Your oneness in our relationships in Christ and our service together for Christ. Amen
Jul 9 – It is important to state that friendship between Christians is different from friendship in the world. In the world family are those who are relatives either by birth or adoption. Friendship then is generally understood to be a close relationship with a person from outside the family circle. Of course we can be closer to certain members of our family circle than others. In the old days they spoke about the difference as ‘kith and kin.’ ‘Kith’ are friends and ‘kin,’ family. Kith and Kin were not strangers, nor acquaintances – they were the people that you knew and were close to you.
Father, because we are in Christ – friendship between Christians is a friendship between kin. We are brothers and sisters in Christ – members together of Your family. It is helpful to know that the Greek word for friend in John 15:12-15, is philos. Philos, a friend who has affection for, an associate. The root of philos, philia, is also the root for phileo, a 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 Your family.
As we pray today – we pray for any Christian friendships that are under attack from Satan or the world’s pressures. We uphold those facing this trial or testing and pray that they may endure, and their friendship become much deeper and richer as a result. Lord, it is often through the fires of testing, trials or temptations that we are refined and set apart from sin, Satan, self and the world for Christ’s glory. May our friendships be rooted into Christ, and filled with phileo love. Amen
Jul 10 – Knit soul to soul: King David and King Saul’s son Jonathan are an amazing example of male friendship in the Bible. There are a number of examples of female friendships, but these are slightly different in that they are usually between kin: Naomi and her daughter in law, Ruth – Mary and her cousin Elizabeth; of course there are examples of kith friendship in the bond between the female followers of Christ. Each of these examples portrays friendship in terms of love, respect and joy from each other’s company.
Father, as we reflect on these soul to soul friendships today – they demonstrate to us the need to pray about our conversations and words to each other – for loving, selfless, good, life-giving words. Of not acting nor reacting selfishly; rather, being motivated by love to help, encourage and strengthen each other.
We pray for pure, open and strengthening non-verbal communications between us – for the love of each other’s company to grow and flourish. We pray also for an attitude towards each other, in Telford Elim, of kindness, generosity and grace responding with self-control, good-hearts and selfless commitment to each other.
Lord, some of us will never have a David and Jonathan soul friend, we give thanks and praise and rejoice with those who have such a friend. Nevertheless we pray for these three things in every friendship:
- That our friendships will be free of ungodly control and selfishness
- The Spirit will guide and teach us about the spiritual imperative of self-sacrifice on the behalf others
- That our Christian friendships will transcend the normal family ties and loyalties when these impact negatively on our friends. In Jesus’ name. Amen
Jul 11 – Walking together with others around a greater purpose or common cause: The disciples of Jesus are an example of friendship around a common cause. They came from varied and different backgrounds and ultimately were united, except for Judas Iscariot, by their shared call, experience, teaching and ministries. The apostle Paul had travelling companions who also shared in the mission of God. The mission was a quest to preach the Gospel of Christ to as many people as possible around the Roman world and beyond.
These friendships were important support structures for the apostles. Paul spoke highly, tenderly and affectionately of his apostolic delegate, Timothy. He advised Titus about how to lead the churches on Crete, encouraging him in turn to appoint local leaders in each church – elders. He felt lonely and forsaken at one point saying that many had abandoned him because of the cost of the ministry.
Paul recognised his responsibility for each church he planted, and the people who laboured alongside him praying for them, exhorting them to Christian faithfulness, and equipping them for the work. Generosity and a willingness to suffer for the sake of the Gospel of Christ were expected of each one in his circle.
Father, today we pray for these five hallmarks of friendship in the lives of each one our church ministers to – around the common cause of preaching and living out the Gospel:
- That we will see the power of our friendships develop further and give evidence to the reality of Your work of grace among us as we are involved together in the work of Christ
- For the Spirit’s help and guidance in how best to support and help each other
- That as we co-labour for Christ – in Your church, we will clearly recognise the different roles and authority our leaders carry from You
- That love, respect and commitment will be foundation principles that motivate the words we use to each other in our friendships around the cause of Christ
- That as we pray for each other, minister together and face the common foes together – standing shoulder to shoulder in Your work – that we will be empowered and filled by Your Spirit to achieve all You have purposed that we will. In Jesus’ name. Amen
Jul 12 – Father, it is important to introduce the place of faith in the biblical presentation of friendship. We proclaim that You are our God, the Lord God Almighty, our Creator, Sustainer and Master; yet You invite us into an intimate, close relationship with Yourself through Christ.
Thank You that Christ our Saviour and Friend makes it possible to be Your friend also. We proclaim and stand on 2 Peter 1:1 as an encouragement to us: ‘I am writing to those who have been given a faith as equally precious as ours through the righteousness of our God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.’ Through Your word and Spirit – we have been given a faith as precious as our Christian forbears had – of equal standing to theirs.
Your word is clear that our faith pleases You. It is impossible to be Your friend, one whose company pleases You, unless we have a living faith in Christ. Faith is the basis for our meeting with You. In Christ, we share a precious faith with those heroes of faith who have gone before, and every brother and sister who truly lives by faith today. It is our faith that enables us to meet You on Your terms. It is also our faith that unites us as Christian friends.
Whether we have a rare soul to soul friendship, or a more usual one based around a common cause or common interest, the Bible is clear that it is our shared faith that enables us to stand together. This makes the biblical view of human friendship much more real, gritty and selfless than the world’s fluffy, mug of coffee type.
Lord, Your word is clear that Christian friends shouldn’t gossip, deride another’s character, nor tell tales about others. Grant us the biblical wisdom, discernment and understanding to know if we are crossing into a fleshy or worldly conversation about another – this also displeases You. You call us to a godly meeting in Christ with Christ present. May the thought that every time we meet our fellow Christian friend, Christ is present – His Spirit the Dove among us – be a very clear and present reality. Then we will be much more careful, circumspect and godly in our conversations, interactions with, and words to, each other.
May You enable us to be godly, faith-filled and righteous friends in both a soul to soul relationship, and in our common, shared cause in Christ. Amen