Do you ever pray scary, downright dangerous prayers? The kind that you know God will answer because you’re so confident you need sanctifying in that area of your life?
I’ve recently been praying those kinds of prayers in regard to my neighbors. I want to learn how to love people who are really different from me. I want to better learn how to find common ground and grow in my respect for folks who don’t think like me. And I think God wants that too. And so some days when I pray for my neighbors, I ask God to form relationships for me that I wouldn’t normally seek out; to invite people to my dinner table that maybe no one would expect to find there.
Though I acknowledge those are dangerous prayers, ones that may cost me something–my comfort, my reputation (I tend to put my foot in my mouth), or my preferences—-I’ve seen God go before me in enough relationships to know He will be faithful not only to sanctify me, but to give me a supernatural love for others.
With the undergirding of prayer, I’ve been able to form friendships that I would have never sought on my own. The key to each of these unlikely relationships is God providing common ground.
My no-bra-wearing friend with whom I connect over a certain holiday tradition.
My 75-year-old neighbor who invites my kids and me over every week to teach us a craft that we love and he’s perfected.
My friends from a different faith background who have become such a relational provision for our entire family and stimulate me to think more deeply about my faith in Christ alone.
My 80-year-old widow friend who pays my son to mow her yard and my girls weed her flowerbeds.
My friend across the street, thirty-five years older, who has walked a hundred miles with me around this neighborhood (often pushing one of my strollers).
My dear accountant friend I initially bonded with while serving at our kids’ school and now connect with over love for hot tea, dangly earrings, and a good shaving razor.
My newest friend, who shared at our dinner table this summer that she is a drag king, bonded with our family over a love for board games.
If I pictured the kind of friends a woman like me would probably choose, I don’t know if any of these wonderful people would appear in the snapshots. Yet God has gone before me and beside me and behind me, forging deep bonds of love. I’m so thankful for each of these people because they enrich my life in some way. Even though they don’t all live like me or share my love for Jesus or Scripture, they are my people. I believe God will answer the dangerous prayers I’ve prayed lately because I can look back on all these unlikely friendships and see how he has been blazing a trail in my heart and life.
If you are looking for a place to begin as you pray for your own neighbors, consider this prayer guide from NBS2GO.