Who is your best friend? A best friend is someone you share everything with. You tell them about your hopes, your problems, your joys.
Through the years, I’ve had several best friends. When I was a child my best friend was Alice, a friend I made in kindergarten. She taught me to love horses like she did. In college my best friend was Laura. We talked about our hopes and dreams for the future. Right after college, my best friend was my roommate April. Though she didn’t know it at the time, her faith shaped my faith.
I have had many good friends, but when I’ve moved away from these friends, it’s been difficult to maintain the close nature of our friendships. In the beginning, we say that we’ll keep in close contact. But slowly the phone calls become less frequent and suddenly I realize that this friend is no longer my best friend. This is because friendship takes constant communication, constant nurture of the relationship.
This concept applies to our relationship with God also. In order to have a strong friendship with God, we need to stay in constant communication. Jesus did. Jesus often stopped what he was doing and went away by himself to pray. Through prayer, Jesus was present with his Father. Through prayer Jesus was fed by the life of his Father. Through prayer, Jesus was led in his ministry by his Father. Prayer kept his relationship with his Father strong and vital.
Prayer is important for us also. Prayer is the means of our relationship with God. Through prayer we share our lives with God – our hopes, our fears, our joys. Through prayer we listen to the Lord, we allow him to mold and shape us into his people. Through prayer we build our relationship so that God becomes our best friend. Through prayer the Lord will lead us so that we can accomplish his will for his world through our lives.
Without prayer, our relationship with God will wither and die. When we fail to pray, we turn our backs on the source of life. But when we pray, we receive strength, guidance, and hope from God. When we pray our lives are enlivened from the relationship that we share with God.
But prayer takes commitment and intentionality. Prayer requires making time in our lives for God. I know that for me this is the hardest part of prayer – taking the time to be present with God. But when I do, it’s well worth the time that I spend. Prayer doesn’t have to be complicated. It simply means responding to God, with or without words. You can pray using the formal written prayers or by simply sharing the thoughts of your soul. I have found through the years that writing my prayers in a journal is a helpful method. But lest we think that prayer is only about our own concerns and requests, prayer is also about listening.
Prayer is also about hearing what the Lord has to say to us. This usually requires silence. That is why Jesus often went away to a quiet place to pray. He went to listen to his Father – to be fed and to be led. When we take time to listen, we also will be fed and we will be led.
Prayer is vital to our life as followers of Jesus Christ. Through prayer we will build a strong and lasting friendship with God. And this is the most important friendship for us to nurture because this is the friendship that will last forever.
The Rev. Sally Franklin is pastor of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Fort Mill.