How to Love Your Friends

Selah and Friends

Selah loves her friends. (Both living and non.) And anytime my husband or I try to pray before a meal, she interjects with a long list of her every friend, cousin, neighbor, uncle, and inanimate object within eyeshot. It’s cute at first, and then we kind of look at each other and try to get her to a good stopping point. She simply can’t help herself.

The other night, when I was rocking her in my arms before bed and praying out loud for her to be safe, and strong, and the angels to protect her, she just kept whispering the names of others:  Rory.  Blakely.  Grandma.  Pap Pap.  Baby Ben.  Baby Bo.

I stopped mid-prayer and was moved with wonder: She just keeps naming everyone she loves. That’s what prayer is for her. 

For me…prayer is often a long list of my wants, my needs, my goals. How often do I really pray for my friends?

The next night, before I could even verbalize this to my husband, we got into bed and shut out the light and he said, there in the dark, “Let’s pray for our friends.”

And he started doing just that: praying for our friends, and their needs. And as we prayed, their heartaches became our heartaches. And their cries, became our cries. And the more we prayed, the more I loved them. Every single one. Our friends. The people God has planted in our lives. And by the time we were finished, I felt like a root in my soul was extended out further. Like arms reaching. In friendship, toward them. Because I loved them, and I loved their cries. And they were all precious to me.

And to my friends, I have not loved you nearly enough, nor cherished you as I ought. And Selah has taught me this. To love deeply. To hug tightly. And to name out before God the people you love. She has shown me quite simply that, “A friend loves at all times.” Even meal times. Even bed time. For, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

It just looks different than I thought. It’s not always a bloody martyr walk. Sometimes it’s just making their cries your own, through a simple prayer. And opening your heart to love them, the way God does. And I know that loving people isn’t about “just” praying for them. (I know that it’s meeting actual needs like making meals, and helping out, and physically doing things for them.) But…I think when it comes down to how to love our friends—it’s a good place to start. To simply: start praying for them. Truly. Sincerely. Because something mystical happens when we pray for people, we just supernaturally…love them more. And if we can love them more when we’re not with them, how much more when we are together, will we be prepared to listen well, and love well, and lay down life, the way Christ did for us.

Because He is our example in all things, even friendship. And He really loved, and really liked His disciples, His friends. And not only did he feed them, and wash their feet, and break His body for them…but He prayed for them. (John 17) And in doing so, He loved them.

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  1. Rebekah, this is so beautiful. SO beautiful. Isn’t it amazing how kids continue to teach us lesson after lesson? This lesson really touched me, because lately I’ve been really focused on my needs. Picturing you and your husband praying for your friends made my heart burn. There is so much love in this world. I want to try praying for my friends more. Thank you, thank you 🙂 How blessed your friends are to have your prayers.

    • Marla,
      I am so glad God touched your heart through this! Indeed, our kids can teach us such incredible lessons! (Truly, she gets it right more than I do, many times!) It is amazing how the Holy Spirit fills our hearts up with love for people as we pray for them. 🙂 I’m so glad you will be praying for your friends!!

  2. I once heard prayer doesn’t change God, it changes our heart. As I read how your heart became one with your friends through your prayers for them this came back to me. How true it is, how wonderful, how miraculous and beautiful. Thank you sweet Selah for reminding us all to lift up the needs of those we call “friends.”

    I know we are simply blogging friends and yet I often think of and pray for you and your gift of writing. So happy to know you Rebekah!

    • Sasha,
      I am truly blessed by your genuine love for me through your prayers. Thank you so much! That really means so much to me. (Even though we are only blogging friends…it’s amazing how much we get to share of our hearts with one another!:) Yes, and I’m thankful Selah could set the example in this! She is a far more loving friend than I…but I am learning. I love what you said, about how God changes our hearts through prayer. How true that is. I hope to open my heart further to my friends (blogging friends too;) as I pray for them. Thank you so much for your kindness and strength. For you were my first blogging friend, and the one that encouraged me to keep writing even when I wanted to quit. Thank you Sasha. 🙂

  3. I love how children pray. So simple and so pure. Your post encourages me to care more for my friends more. My love to pray for them has been sparked by your story. Thanks so much for writing.

    • Lisa,
      You are right, kids pray with such genuine simplicity! I’m so glad to hear that you will be praying for your friends. And I am so excited for what God will do through your friendships as you love them even more. It really is true that when we pray for people, we just end up loving them more. (Maybe that’s why Jesus said to even pray for your enemies!;) I hope to love my friends in a more true way by praying for them more sincerely. Because I think that these people God has placed in our lives are here for a reason, and God has placed us in their lives for a reason too. And maybe our friendships are more important than we thought! And not just for us, but to exalt God, and point one another to Him. I really pray that the Spirit empowers us to love our friends the way Christ loved his friends-because I think these relationships are meant to be more precious and strengthening than we ever imagined. 🙂 Blessings to you and your friends!!!

  4. It can be so overwhelming just to pray for our own needs and wants. This is a beautiful way to shift more towards praise and giving to others. Thank you for this truth and deep reflection!

    • I completely agree! It seems there is so much to pray for in my own family and I often don’t take time to pray for things that don’t directly affect me. But, I’m just starting to realize it’s something we’re are called to, and a practical way we can love the friends around us. (And strangely, I often feel happier and more loving after praying for my friends…maybe it’s because I’m not wrapped up in my own little world!;) Anyway, I’m so glad this touched you, and I hope you will be empowered to love and pray for your friends and reach further into their lives than you ever thought possible. 🙂