He was the school clown, I decided after only a week of knowing him—a shallow creature living off the laughter he provoked with daily pranks and jokes. In the wondrous mix of nationalities attending Newbold College 30 years ago, this puckish fellow was all the things that I was not—fit, blond, gregarious, and funny. I knew with all the certitude of self-congratulating righteousness that he was lacking in the sober qualities so necessary to a life with God.
And then one night the chance division of our worship room paired me with him for prayer. I knelt beside him on the well-worn dormitory carpet, sure that the poverty of his soul would show itself when it came his turn to pray.
Instead, I heard the passionate pleading of a man much used to talking with his God, a man whose depth of spiritual understanding, even in English, certainly exceeded my own. He spoke to God without the affectations I had practiced, not troubled whether “Thees” and “Thine” got matched with “You” and “Yours.” He prayed from deep within a covenant of friendship, and, ashamed as I was, I felt included in the grace and breadth of what he said to God.
From that autumn day three decades ago, I began to check my usual rush to judgment, to give the Spirit space to break the prejudice and haste that sometimes settled in my heart. The habit of praying with other believers became a welcome opportunity to renew my own openness to God, to hear the Holy Spirit giving me counsel and insight through the words of men and women who knew Him better than I did.
Your story, too, will be enriched by every time you pray with someone else. The Lord who promised to meet wherever at least two are gathered in His name has many things to teach us through the ministry of praying together. Courage, grace, humility—these qualities are caught—and taught—whenever we make room for three-way conversations with the risen Lord.
Do not let this day end without some moments deep in prayer with one of God’s elect. Your joys will be at least doubled, and your sorrows trimmed by half.