Growing up in a Raleigh suburb two doors down from some of my family's best friends was something I knew to be normal growing up, and realize, only now as an adult was an extraordinary gift. I recall jumping off the bus and running straight to our friends, the Bakers' house. We played soccer and baseball until it was too dark to see, and played xbox or charades on the rainy days. Our parents regularly organized cookouts where we shared meals, and logged many hours of quality time together. Vacations planned, graduations attended, countless stories, joyful seasons, hardships, conflict, forgiveness, grace.
I count myself blessed to have had such meaningful, Christ-centered relationships in my life at such an early age. The Lord brought our family from the coast of North Carolina to live just a few doors down from the Bakers, and our parents made it a priority to live closely and vulnerably with those close in proximity to us. We live in a world today that praises individualism, strength of self, and privacy. However, I believe Jesus would want something altogether different for us.
Prayer Tip #20 - Pray to Find Your People
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10: 24-25
The Lord makes it clear throughout the scriptures that if we are in Christ, we are meant to be a part of a bigger whole. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul speaks of this body of believers, "We were all baptized by one Holy Spirit. And so we are formed into one body." We have each been given a part to play in Christ's grand and perfect plan, and it is to be carried out in deep, committed community with other believers. When we live closely with people, we begin to sharpen one another, spur each other on in faith, challenge one another, keep each other accountable, help one another, pray for one another, and do life with one another. Our lives will begin to change and we will live fully known and fully loved. The Bakers were a part of the village that helped raise my sister and I up in love and in Christ, and I am better because of it.
Out of the boldness and courage of one of my God-fearing and fierce friends, I am a part of a small group that meets weekly and is going chapter by chapter through Jennie Allen's book entitled Find Your People. Our meetings are saturated with prayer, and dependent on scripture. We update each other on our current praises and victories, and on our current anxieties and prayer requests. For me, one of the biggest overall takeaways from our time meeting together has been the finding the "why." In Find Your People, Jennie states, "Investing in relationship is not just so that we can have friends to go to dinner with when we feel lonely. It's so we can be effective for eternity." When we live to serve God and make His name known, we see that we need the help of others to make us more like Him.
But wouldn't it be easier to just keep to ourselves? Wouldn't it be more efficient to go to the grocery store on our own and keep our problems and struggles to ourselves? The answer is yes, it would be easier. We have a God that is abundantly knowledgeable, gracious, merciful and loving; and we also have an enemy. The devil would love nothing more than to convince us that living in isolation is better, and investing in meaningful relationships is just too much work. Once we realize that God is for healthy, life-giving community, and the devil hates it, it is that much more worth it to fight to find your people.
This weekend, my husband and I, along with my family, will attend the wedding of the eldest son in the Baker family. By God's grace, we are still bearing the fruit of our time invested together. It hasn't always been easy, but it has always been worth it.
Prayer Points - Pray over these requests:
Pray that God would help you to find your people.
Ask Him to provide a community of Spirit-filled individuals to do life with.
Pray that you would know and believe the truth about what God says about community in His Word.
Ask the Lord to help you discern who in your life you need to go deeper with.
Praise God that He is always near and always present, even when we may feel alone.
Suggested Prayer - Pray these words in your heart or out loud:
I come before You in the Name of Jesus and I thank You for allowing us to live and dwell in community with one another. Thank You for the gift it is to be a part of the Body of Christ. We pray that we would recognize the value of meeting together, spurring one another on, and sharpening one another. We pray that our relationships would allow us to flourish and would allow us to be better used by You, God. We are thankful for the joy we get to experience alongside people, and we thank You for the ways You speak through those around us. Thank You for Jesus and His atoning blood. Thank You for the grace and forgiveness You so freely give us.
It is in Jesus' Name I pray, Amen