Tandem: a word originally used to refer to a carriage pulled by two horses harnessed, one behind the other. It later was transferred to the description of a bicycle for two riders, one behind the other. In more general usage, it has come to refer to a relationship where any two people, or things, are coupled in a strong partnership for a specific purpose. This, of course, has enormous meaning for us in the Body of Christ.
Sharing My Experience
It happens each evening at 9:30, or thereabouts. A phone call and a conversation with a friend and with God. A few weeks ago, I was talking with my friend who lives about 2000 miles away. We talk from time to time and share what’s going on in life. We typically pray together as well. However, about a week or so ago, as he and I talked, he shared about some issues of life that we’ve talked about for months now. He had come to the point of desperation in wanting to hear the voice of God and discern His guidance, and experience His provision for these needs. He had entered into a time of fasting and prayer during the Lenten season leading up to the Resurrection Celebration, in order to hear from God. It was in that conversation that I felt the leading of the Holy Spirit to make a covenant with my friend to join in this process of seeking God in these matters. As I joined him, I also began to seek God for needs in my own life. We are now over a week into this covenant process and we have yet to see all that God is going to do, but the process is already proving beneficial…mutually.
David and Jonathan
The friendship of two men, of which we read in the Old Testament, comes quickly to mind. David (the rising king of Israel) and his friend, Jonathan, the son of the deposed king, Saul, were close friends…brothers. Saul, from whom God’s anointing had departed, was seeking to kill David, knowing he had been appointed his successor by God. Jonathan, caught in the middle between his father, the king, and David his close friend, became committed in the relationship in order to protect David.
1 Samuel 20:16-17
16 So Jonathan made a covenant with David, saying, “May the LORD destroy all your enemies!” 17 And Jonathan made David reaffirm his vow of friendship again, for Jonathan loved David as much as he loved himself.
This was a period in the life of David, and in the journey of this friendship, when there was a necessity for a covenant that goes beyond the normal relational interactions, to a deeper level. Although continuing their deeply committed friendship until Jonathan’s death, this particular covenant was only necessary for a specific period in which David was experiencing the danger of Saul’s threat toward him.
The Need for Covenant Commitments
Sometimes, in our relationships in the Body of Christ, we will find there is a need for a focused covenant commitment for a season. That doesn’t mean the friendship will become shallow, or wane, afterward. It just means that this level of interaction is for a specified and focused period of time. As a matter of fact, it would be extremely difficult for two people to maintain this level of commitment indefinitely. It will, however, forever change the relationship for the good. We must also be aware, while being rewarding, fulfilling, and spiritually strengthening, it is also taxing and demanding. Having said that, I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. It has already been a tremendous blessing in several ways.
So, every night at 9:30 (or a mutually agreeable alternative time) we call, we share and we pray. We pour out our hearts to God, praising and worshiping Him, giving thanks and seeking His face for the things we need…Him and His guidance. Sometimes my friend has been too drained to pray effectively, my prayers have offered up our hearts more fully on his behalf…sometimes that shoe is on the other foot. Always, we are reminded that the Spirit is praying for us and Jesus is interceding on our behalf. What precious times.
The Reason for This Season
It must seem obvious what the benefits are of this experience. We (my friend and I) are finding God to be faithful and receiving an answer from Him. Well…at least we’re on the way to that. Answers are already in the process…we don’t fully see it all yet, but I’m convinced pieces are already in place that we don’t recognize. However, let me iterate a few things that are evident to me that God is doing through this covenant commitment.
- Changing Our Perspectives – prayer is often more about God changing us, than about God changing our circumstances.
- Maturing Us – I’ve been a follower of Jesus for about 43 years. That’s a long time. But I still need to experience growth and maturity. I will never “arrive” in this life. My friend has been a follower for more like 8 years or so. He also needs to grow. That is a universal need of every believer.
- Opening Our Eyes to Our Needs – I think my friend would agree with me, that coming together in our covenant prayer, we have had God open our eyes to things we may not have seen without this relationship. Bouncing life off of one another in prayer gives a new reflection of what is really there. In response, we have had the opportunity to act in specific ways.
- Disciplining Our Wills – making a commitment to covenant prayer is not taken lightly. There may have been times either of us would have given in to fatigue or frustration and not prayed…or not prayed sincerely. However, knowing we have made this commitment, we come together even if the flesh is screaming against it. The payoff is obvious.
- Deepening Our Friendship – When you bare your soul to another individual, you risk transparency. In a safe and supportive environment, that is a place where growth can happen. As a result, the friendship deepens and God uses it to bring about maturity and to sharpen one another.
- Rejoicing Together – God will answer. I have no doubt about this. It may not be the answer we’re looking for exactly, but it will be the right answer. God wants us to know His will as we seek Him. In the process, we are rejoicing in Him…at seeing His hand move…at hearing His voice speak quietly…at believing He is there even when He is silent. As we wait upon Him and we seek His face, we will hear from Him. When that time comes, we will have the opportunity to rejoice together over the response God gives to our prayers. That, too, will remind us of His faithfulness and grace.
6 “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; 7 let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. 29 He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. 30 Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; 31 but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
I’m quite sure this is not an exhaustive list of the benefits we are experiencing, or will experience, from this covenant commitment, but it is a pretty powerful list, nonetheless. God is moving and working…even more than we know at this point. I’m thankful for this opportunity to be used and to receive ministry from my friend. It is truly a mutually beneficial arrangement. It is for a season, but I know the resulting depth of relationship will be lifelong. That’s the way it should be in the Body of Christ when we walk in tandem with a another.
Perhaps you have experienced a covenant commitment with a fellow Christ follower. How has that impacted your life and walk with the Lord?