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Thursday Nights, Mighty Men, and Knives.

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When I was a senior in high school, I had the privilege of joining several other guys in our youth group on Thursday nights for a special prayer time. It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced and something I have craved ever since.
Every Thursday night, around 8PM, about five of us met in an upstairs classroom of our church. The rest of the church was dark and silent but on the third floor, you would find that one light on. We would hang out, chat, and joke around. But while we were doing that, we were each taking turns writing on the whiteboard in the front of the room.

We weren’t writing Bible verses or elaborate prayers. We weren’t writing the names of God. We were writing out our deepest, darkest secrets. We were writing out the sins we were each struggling with that we couldn’t tell anyone else. We were listing everything from pornography to laziness, writing our names next to each one of them.

While many of these sins and struggles were pretty typical of teenage boys, others were not. One of the guys in our group had recently lost his father to suicide and was comforting his mom through the pain. Another was struggling to find the money so he could go to college and establish a career with the government.

Each one of us would take our turn up at the board, guided by only two rules – honesty and confidentiality. When the last guy finished, we would talk through them together. We would ask each other tough questions, trying to root out the causes and temptations that have led to our failures, putting together strategies to help overcome them the next time around. We would offer advice to each other on major decisions that were coming up (and between college acceptance letters, our jobs, and graduating, there were plenty to be made).

When all was said and done, we turned out the lights. One guy would kneel down on the floor while the others laid hands on him. We would then pray out loud, in unison, for our fellow brother over the sins and issues he was struggling through. We prayed for victory, for comfort, and for grace. We prayed for reconciliation and that God would use him for amazing things in his future. This would go on for up to an hour until each one of us had been prayed over.

We often referred to ourselves as each other’s mighty men, referencing David’s small inner band of soldiers in I & II Samuel who singlehandedly slayed hundreds of adversaries and ventured across enemy territory just to fetch the King fresh water. We had each other’s backs and there was no question about it. It was a beautiful microcosm of the Church as Christ designed it to be.

We didn’t judge each other, gossip, or question anyone’s salvation. We used the raw, unfiltered image into each other’s lives to look out for the weaknesses that bring us down and pray for each other’s deepest pains and issues. While it certainly felt risky and intimidating at first, it quickly became one of the safest places in the world. I often walked away feeling refreshed, encouraged, and supported.

After years of being away from those guys, I later reconnected with one of them during a wedding. As we hung out over the weekend, we continued to confess and pour into each other. I walked away with that same refreshed, overflowing sense that I had years ago.

Does anyone have your back? As we continue to dive into this idea of one-on-one discipleship, is there anyone you are that open with? Who are your mighty men or women? I love what the Proverb says,

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17).”

While we all want to be sharper, we have to remember that a knife is sharpened when its edges are chipped away through friction. The end result is desirable but the process is uncomfortable and occasionally painful. The kind of fellowship that sharpens fellow men and women requires authenticity and humility. Are you willing to make that kind of sacrifice for the liberation and reconciliation that comes from true Christian community?

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