You Have Prayer
By Constance Fink
It was a time of great burden with no sign of relief. Our family was in the thick of stress due to unexpected unemployment and living where we did – in a rural area – made it even more difficult to find work. The weeks had turned to months and the months to years. The financial, emotional, and spiritual strain felt unbearable at times. It was as if I was wandering in the woods on a dark, narrow path with no end in sight. I was living from minute-to-minute not day-to-day.
Friends called to offer support. Some expressed concern. Others attempted to “fix” the situation, but realized how helpless they were to do so. I felt an unshakeable aloneness, even though I was trusting God as never before. What was missing?
One day, while driving alone, I blurted out, “I wish I had a prayer partner!” It was as if a light went on. That’s exactly what was missing. Someone to pray with me regularly. Someone to walk with me as I maneuvered through the wooded path. Jesus promised, “Where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them” (Matt. 18:20).
Even Moses, the great leader of the Israelites, needed the support of others. When the Amalekites attacked the Israelites, Moses implemented a military strategy. From a clear vantage point on top of a mountain, he directed the battle. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites won the fight, but when he lowered his hands, the Amalekites won. Then when Moses became tired, his two partners, Aaron and Hur, placed a rock under him for support. While Moses rested, they held his arms up—one on each side—to steady his raised hands until the Israelites won the war (Gen. 17). Like Moses, my endurance had waned. I was tired. But Moses’ account and Jesus’ promise of His presence when two of His children come to Him in prayer, gave me hope.
Still driving, I wondered which of my friends could be my “Aaron or Hur.” Though caring, all of them were busy. And since I live in a rural area, it was unrealistic to think of getting together every day, but every day was what I needed.
Then a new option dawned on me: Why limit my choice to local friends? Why not ask one of my out-of-state friends? We already communicated regularly by email, why not pray together online? I could share needs as they occurred, a couple of times a day if necessary. My friend could pray at her convenience, a couple of times a day if necessary.
I had just the friend in mind. Although it’s been more than 25 years since we shared a room in Bible school, we’re closer today than we ever imagined we could be. Through the years, email has been a significant factor in keeping us close. We write often, sharing news and struggles, dreams and disappointments. Through her words, I see her smile and sometimes her fatigue. Because our personalities and gifts are complementary, neither of us proceeds too far on a project without bouncing ideas off the other, whether it is one of my writing projects or a retreat idea for her church.
I arrived home, immediately logged on to my computer, and composed an email, asking Linda to be my e-prayer partner for at least a month. As I clicked “Send,” my heart filled with anticipation for what daily prayer could do for my current situation.
The next day I received Linda’s reply: “Yes, I will pray with you. Your message was timely. I’ve been thinking about you and how much I need you.” Wow, this isn’t just for me. It’s for Linda, too. As a pastor’s wife, she needed a confidante outside her church for prayer and accountability.
We began to send daily emails, just one- or two-sentence prayers. From sign-on to sign-off took less than fifteen minutes. We prayed for specifics—“Please give wisdom in the decision next week.” We prayed Scripture—“God, please guard her heart and mind with your peace.” We were honest with God—“I’m discouraged today, Lord, and don’t know how much longer I can go on.” We questioned—“Sometimes you seem far away, Lord.” We praised— “Thank you, Lord, for the reminder that you keep your promises.” Some days the struggle was evident; other days, strength and hope. We spoke to God from our hearts and kept each other’s concerns confidential.
Though my circumstances remained unchanged, it wasn’t long before my burden began to feel lighter. Instead of turmoil, I now felt comfort and peace. My prayers began to reflect quiet rest in God’s presence rather than preoccupation with my concerns.
Still, there were days when the needs were so numerous and my focus so scattered, it was difficult to pray. I couldn’t seem to find the words. Those days, Linda became my voice. Her prayers for me were a tangible example of the Holy Spirit’s intercession on my behalf.
Romans 8:26-27 says when I do not know what I should pray, the Spirit Himself intercedes for me in accordance with God’s will. He is my voice. He continually speaks to the Father on my behalf, especially during those times when all I can do is groan. He prays for me when I don’t know how to pray. He prays with focus and clarity when I am confused. He prays with faith when I feel like giving up.
Not only did I draw closer to God, but also to Linda. After the first month, it was natural to continue our prayer partnership. After the first year, God was working in so many of our requests that we were excited to continue. We’re now beginning our fourth year.
An e-prayer partnership grows a friendship despite busy schedules and geographical distance. Here’s how it can bless your relationship with your friend – and with God:
Several years pass between visits, but Linda and I are involved in each other’s daily life. Even though our prayers are only a few sentences long, they hold pertinent concerns. Today’s concerns. While I prepare dinner, I pray for the neighbors Linda invited to her house tonight. And tomorrow morning, I’ll log on to see how it went.
Just as journaling a prayer provides clarity, so does composing an e-prayer. Written words help crystallize what we need from God. “Lord, you’ve always taken care of my needs. I ask for peace as I trust you to guide us in paying for this unexpected bill.”
Writing out prayers – and God’s responses – is also a good way to record His individual attention. Not only can we see a pattern of God’s work in our life, but the entries also serve as reminders that our requests are with God. He holds them in His hand. How often we need that reminder!
The commitment to pray together builds accountability. As we remind each other of areas for growth and change through e-mail or instant messenger, we can make immediate course corrections. For example, one of my goals last year was to show grace to a friend with whom I had frequent conflicts. When a new conflict arose, I expressed my frustration to both God and Linda. Linda reminded me the conflict was an opportunity for God to help me grow and for Him to be reflected through me. The next time I had an encounter with my difficult friend, instead of reacting, I paused, knowing I was upheld by Linda’s prayer earlier in the week.
Email provides immediate access, an opportunity for instant pleas. I often think of the missionaries 100 years ago and their urgent prayer requests in the midst of serious hardships. Their requests, sent by boat across the seas, sometimes took months to reach their faithful supporters. Today when my friends share requests, not only do I reply immediately with a word of encouragement but also with a prayer.
I’ve shared the joy of many answered prayers with Linda. Needs have been met, relationships healed, circumstances changed, rough places smoothed, and faith strengthened. When the answers came, my prayer partner was the first to know. In the meantime, the load was lightened and waiting was easier. Staying close to friends and God is only a click away!