Dear Pope Francis,
There’s been a lot of firsts for Lauren and mine’s friendship the last few weeks. First time we’ve lived in the same province and time zone. First time we’ve seen each other more than once in a two week period. First time we’ve had an in-person meeting for LTP. And, first time we’ve prayed together.
When I think about how long Lauren and I have been friends now, it blows my mind that Sunday was the first time she and I ever prayed together. We talk about God and Jesus and church news (and boys and family and life plans and job prospects) all the time, and we’ve both prayed for situations in each other’s lives on our own time. But Sunday evening was the first time Lauren and I ever sat and prayed together outside of mass.
Prayer is intimate in a way that regular conversations aren’t. When you sit and pray with another person, you’re saying aloud the things that are really weighing on your heart and the things you’re especially grateful for. It’s an opportunity to include that person in your relationship with God and to understand theirs in a different way.
Praying with another person can also make you feel very vulnerable. You’re opening yourself up to God, but you’re aware of the presence of that other person.
In the youth group I was part of in my early teens, we prayed for the intentions people brought forward, and this practice was repeated in my three years of French class with Miss Henry in high school. In both places, it was always understood that what people asked was done with the expectation people wouldn’t gossip about it. To my knowledge, no one did.
Where I felt especially honoured were the occasions when a classmate I rarely spoke with asked if there was any news about my Dad’s job application when he was trying to make the jump from limos to buses. This same person asked how my younger sister was doing in the weeks after she got hit by a car while riding her bike to school.
We weren’t really friends and didn’t have anything in common except a few classes. I’d have to dig out my old yearbooks to even tell you her name. But it felt good to have her follow up on the situations I had been praying about, and I was always left with the vague impression that she was praying about them on her own time too.
Even though the disciples fell asleep while Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, they went with him. Friends don’t leave friends to pray alone when they’re invited to join.
Perhaps a good mark of friendship among Christians is whether or not you feel you can ask that person to pray with you about something.