I’d like to tell you a short story about how Priscilla and I became friends on my 17th birthday. I had just moved to South Africa for A’Levels and this was going to be my first birthday away from my friends of six years and so far away from home. Also, since my birthday falls at the beginning of the school year, I really didn’t have any close friends as of yet. I’m not much of a birthday person because I’m generally non fussy, but Priscilla’s kindness that day was the foundation of a friendship that has been mostly peaceful and lived through even long distance. 😀
Anyway that night in September, I sat in the classroom with my new class and school mates, doing a reading for our Seminal Readings (this thing we have in my ALevels school where the entire school takes a one week break to read and discuss intellectual material). As you can imagine, I wasn’t doing my readings, and neither was Priscilla, the weird girl from Malawi who’s obsessed with Nigerians. (Inside joke please)
This weird girl from Malawi inched closer to my seat and told me “I heard today is your birthday and I have a present for you.”
It was a little creepy because I didn’t really know her. But being the nice person that I am, I smiled and listened. She proceeded to open her bible to a seemingly random page and she read me Songs of Solomon 2:7, which says “Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you, do not awaken love until I so desires.”
Fun fact- the same verse appears three times in the book- Verses 3:5, and 8:4. It clearly is a pretty serious warning.
I was struck by Priscilla. First of all, she had a small bible which she always carried in her backpack (I soon started doing same). And, she came up to me to read me a bible verse for my birthday.
In hindsight, I probably should have heeded that advice, because my life would have been so much better off.
For the rest of that night, Priscilla and I gathered a few cosmetics we had in our bags and did a mini photo shoot with them. Right there, when we were meant to be reading/ studying. But that was the beginning of a friendship with a most amazing and beautiful soul.
Anyway, this long preamble is to tell you about how I started praying with and for my friends. Till date, Priscilla is the one friend that I always, always pray with. Whenever we talk on FaceTime or on Skype, we generally would fight over whose turn it is to pray. Whenever we see each other, we pray before we say goodbye. No matter how I’m feeling, I’d text/ call Priscilla, and most times, she not only will pray for me, she will pray with me.
Last night I was speaking with a friend late into the night. My friend had sent me a lovely “checking-in” message, and rather than just send a nice reply, I called. We spoke for a brief while, despite my friend’s extreme tiredness lol (I like people who have my time). Afterwards, I proceeded to read two psalms before we concluded our conversation.
When I was done reading, my friend said “thank you,” which I thought was weird, and I did mention it. But thinking back now, it’s been a minute since someone called me and read me a psalm, or said a prayer for me, whether deliberately or spontaneously.
Except Priscilla, of course.
As much as I’ve been tired the entire day at work, my heart lights up when I think about the tiny gesture of praying with my friend. It may seem awkward, but please make the effort to pray for and with your friends.
Over the weekend, I saw an old friend, and all through our conversation, my spirit was stirred up to pray for the person. I was much too shy to suggest that we say a quick prayer, although that’s precisely how I felt in my spirit. God was nudging me to pray with, and for, my friend. I don’t even remember if I said a prayer in my heart.
In retrospect, I wish we had departed on a quick word of prayer. I may have looked weird, but they would have looked back and thought, hmmn, Alheri prayed with me. Alheri said she had nothing else to give me, so she prayed with me. Wouldn’t that have been beautiful?
I know, I know, maybe you pray for your friends when you say your prayers, but there’s nothing more beautiful than sometimes, calling them and actually praying with them. There’s nothing more beautiful than sending them an encouraging scripture, of a reading them a beautiful psalm.
I certainly am going to be doing this more often, and I sincerely hope that someone will too!