“Lord, thank you for the refreshment that comes through this friendship,” my prayer partner prayed this morning. I echoed her prayer minutes later when it was my turn. Truly, our relationship, which is one of deep friendship and spiritual edification, is a rich source of refreshment to me. As I drove home, fueled by our time together, it struck me that most of my girlfriends do not have prayer partners and it’s not always a relationship I’ve prioritized either. Now I’m certain I couldn’t flourish without one.
Years ago when I was in a season of birthing children and keeping up with a fast-paced ministry, I received my first prayer partner invitation. Another woman in ministry, with whom I wasn’t super close yet, sent me an email saying, “Hey, wanna meet up once a week for coffee and prayer?” I think I clumsily wrote back something like, “Well, ok, but why?” She patiently replied, “Because it’ll be good for us.” And she was right.
DTR: Defining the Prayer Partner Relationship
Defining a prayer partner is pretty simple: it’s someone you ask to pray with you once a week. My prayer partners have always been other women in a season of life similar to mine. Typically they have been other women in ministry and always women that I know will push me spiritually. They have been women that I deeply trust, who I know will hear my confessions, love me unconditionally, and love me enough to encourage (and insist upon, when necessary) my repentance. They are ladies who treasure the Lord Jesus and who highly value pursuing him and helping others do the same. They are women who are transparent, authentic, and usually very funny. They are strong, intuitive, and like coffee as much as I do. These ladies have always wanted my best.
My prayer partners and I have normally met very early in the morning, before kids awaken, still in our pajamas, with crust on our eyelids. We know that if we want this weekly meeting to happen, it’ll have to be in the margin, which is normally when it’s still dark outside. We’ve come back week after week—even when nursing infants or emotive teenagers have kept us up till all hours—because we have tasted the refreshment that is delivered every single time.
Upon arrival, the hostess hands the other—the one who has crept in the front door without ringing the bell, so as not to awaken a soul—a cup of coffee. We two collapse on the couch and say, “So. How are you?” What follows is an exchange of burdens and blessings, sorrows and joys. We share the good, the bad, the ugly. We confess sin. We expose hardness of heart. We share the hard things happening in our lives. And we already know that the other is a safe place to share, because we know that one another’s love is unconditional, and we know that we each will drive the other back to the cross, no matter what.
We share it all and then we pray, each for the other. United, we bow our heads and praise God on behalf of the other. We thank the Lord for his goodness, trustworthiness, and sovereignty over all the things we have just shared. And then we place those things in his strong and capable hands. By the end of our prayer, we both feel ten pounds lighter. The refreshment is evident on our faces and the new lightness in our voices. We commit to praying for one another throughout the week and to check back in on today’s needs next time.
It’s Worth It
Finding such a friend can be difficult in today’s church culture. It seems many of us have surface-level friendships and want to maintain an I-have-it-all-together facade on Sunday mornings. To ask another to pray with you is to confess that you don’t have your life under control. It’s a vulnerable invitation.
My encouragement to other women is this: finding and developing a prayer partner friendship may be costly, but it will be worth it. You will have to invest time and potentially pre-dawn drives, and you will have to admit that you need help, and you will have to learn a new way of relating as you lock arms with your sister and walk life together. But she will encourage you and build you up (1 Thessalonians 5:11) like no other.
Go to the places where Christians gather. Be on the look out for a like-minded woman who gives you the sense that she’s serious about her spiritual growth. Invite her over for coffee next week at 6am. And if she asks why say, “Because it’ll be good for us.”