Being a Friend - Who Stands in the Gap

So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.  - Ezekiel 22:30

In ancient times, cities defences were its walls and if the walls had a gap the city would be in great danger.  The verse above speaks of a time when God’s people had left a huge gap in their morals and standards.  God wanted to show them mercy so looked for a man who would stand in the gap on behalf of the people but he found none.  As a result God was left with no choice but to pour out his wrath on them.  There are several times in the Bible when God was willing to withhold his wrath if just one person would step forward to stand in the gap.  Years have gone by but God hasn’t changed, He is still willing to listen to the one that is willing to stand in the gap.

So how does this apply to us and our friendships?  To stand in the gap means that there is a gap in the first place and there are plenty gaps to see if we are willing to open our eyes.  Mother Teresa stood in the gap for the poor in Calcutta.  Nelson Mandela stood in the gap for the oppressed people of South Africa.  Dr Nathan Barlow stood in the gap for the forgotten people suffering with Mossy Foot.  My lovely friend, Cynthia, is standing in the gap for her people in rural Kenya who are suffering from poverty and the brutal reality of genital mutilation.  Another lovely friend is running Gloucester City Mission and is standing in the gap for the street people of his city.  My amazing mother and father-in-law are standing in the gap for children who need foster care.  The list could go on forever as there are so many gaps in this world.  

Let’s first consider our friendships.  What gaps can you see and how can you stand in the gap for your friends?  Is your friend weak in their faith, can you pray for them or spend time chatting to them about their faith?  Is your friend struggling with something at the moment, can you get involved practically to lighten her load?  Do you know someone who is very lonely, can you stand in the gap by being her friend?

How can we stand in the gap?

Don’t underestimate prayer.  Not only is there a great deal of power in prayer but God is still looking out for those who are willing to stand in the gap.  Friendships can flourish through prayer but cities and even nations can also be influenced by prayer.  God is on the side of those who put themselves at risk by standing in the gaps.  Jesus is our ultimate example – He gave up His life to stand in the gap for us so that we would be spared the judgement that we deserve.  Pray for your friends, pray for your leaders and pray for your nation.  Stand in the gap by praying.

Listening is another simple yet powerful thing to do for a friend.  I know that on many occasions I have felt a hundred times better after a good old chat with a friend.  Many situations are out of our control but a burden shared is a burden halved.  If you feel that there is nothing you can do for a friend know that you can always offer a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on.  Romans 12:15 offers some great advice for us, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep”.   

Protect and Cover
Girls are terrible when it comes to protecting each other.  Most of the time we take delight in exposing our friend’s weaknesses or mistakes so that we can feel good about ourselves.  We are prone to gossiping, backstabbing and generally being mean.  It’s true.  If we want to be a friend that stands in the gap we have to protect our friends and cover them with love.  1 Peter 4:8 says, “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins.”  We should not only protect them in the good times but also in the bad times and especially when they are struggling with sin.  Stand in the gap by not gossiping, not exposing their weakness or sin and by truly loving them.

Get Our Hands Dirty
One final thought on standing in the gap is a very practical suggestion and that is to get our hands dirty.  Praying, listening, protecting and covering are all important and essential but none of them use our hands.  There will come a time when we need to change a nappy, wipe up vomit or do some digging in a garden.  A friend that is willing to offer practical help is a friend that truly knows how to stand in the gap.  All of us need practical help at some point in our life but sadly it is in these times that friends are scarce.  Determine to be a friend that not only notices the practical needs of her friends but jumps at the opportunity to roll up her sleeves and get involved no matter what that means.  

Find out more about Being a Friend here or about using our material to host your own Girl's Night here.

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