Women everywhere are looking for good friendships, because God made them with a natural desire for friends. So if you’re looking for some new girlfriends or hoping to improve the girlfriend relationships you already have, you’re not alone.

God wants you to enjoy friendships that will draw you closer to Him and help you fulfill His purposes for your life. Here’s how you can build those friendships, with God’s help:

Make Jesus your best friend first. You’ll be best prepared to enjoy healthy friendships when you place your relationship with Jesus at the center of your life and revolve all of your other relationships around that. If your relationship with Jesus isn’t currently your top priority, your life is out of balance. Establish priorities in this order: God (Jesus), your spouse if you’re married, your children if you have any, your parents, your extended family, your Christian friends, and the rest of the world. Deepen your friendship with Jesus by expressing your thoughts and feelings to Him in prayer often, listening to what He has to say to you during prayer, studying the Bible (especially God’s promises to you), and making a daily habit of asking Jesus to give you wisdom and peace and to help you discover His will for you in each situation you face.

Reach out to find godly girlfriends. Get involved in activities that you enjoy (from pursuing a hobby to volunteering in your community) and look for potential girlfriends you might meet in the process. Keep an open mind and make yourself available to the people whom God places in your life. Pray for God’s guidance about the people you meet so you can discern which ones may become good friends.

Figure out what kind of friend you are, and what kinds of friends you’re looking for. Get to know your God-given personality, and pray for the wisdom you need to use your personal strengths to strengthen your friendships and work on your weaknesses so they don’t hinder your friendships. Reflect on what types of qualities you’re looking for in friends. Then consider what type of friendships you’d most enjoy (such as confidante, pal, adventurer, or spiritual mentor relationships).

Make time for friendships. If you’re struggling to find enough time to invest in relationships with other women so they can grow into strong friendships, try taking care of your daily responsibilities together rather than trying to carve out time just for fun. If you don’t have time to go to out to eat or to a movie because you’re too busy with your regular chores, do your cooking, cleaning, or errands together and use that time to talk while you and your friends each work. Squeeze more friendship time into your schedule by exercising together, such as walking around your neighborhood or going to a gym together. Be creative about other ways to fit more friendship time into your life, such as using times when you’re waiting in line or doing something mindless (like folding laundry) to talk with friends by phone.

Don’t let your friendships get your life out of balance. While it’s important to make time to invest in your friendships regularly, it’s also important to make sure that you don’t neglect the other relationships and activities in your life because you’ve been spending too much time with your girlfriends. Make sure that you don’t put your girlfriends before your family or miss work because your friendships are consuming too much of your time and attention.

Recognize toxic friendships and end them. While healthy friendships are blessings, unhealthy friendships can cause toxic messes in your life. Drama queens, cynics, manipulators, gossips, and women who won’t make commitments are just some of the emotionally unhealthy people whose behaviors are toxic to you. If any of your friends exhibits unhealthy behaviors, pray about your friendship with her, and ask your pastor or a trusted friend to advise you about whether or not they think the friendship is healthy. Once you’ve determined that a particular friendship is toxic, either break off contact immediately or slowly withdraw from the relationship (however God leads you), forgive your former friend for her mistakes, and spend the time you’d previously put into that friendship in prayer with God instead.

Build a Bible study group. You and your girlfriends can grow closer to God and each other by starting a Bible study group and inviting other women to join and grow along with you all. When setting up the group: make a schedule and stick to it, starting and ending on time and ever canceling a meeting except for emergencies; designate both a committed leader and a backup leader to fill in whenever necessary; start each lesson off in a fun or thoughtful way to capture the group’s attention right away; stay focused on the Bible study material and save social conversations for afterward; and don’t try to counsel women in challenging situations (instead, listen, pray, and refer them to your pastor or a Christian counselor).

Plan girls’ nights (or days) out together. Set aside some special girlfriend times to have fun together with some kind of theme that you all would enjoy. Some ideas: nature walks, a spa trip, a makeover party, a reality show party, gardening, painting, swapping clothes from each other’s closets, stargazing, shopping for antiques, or volunteering for a local charitable organization together.

Plan fun trips and spiritual retreats together. Go on vacation with your girlfriends to enjoy fun adventures that you couldn’t experience at home: from tours of beautiful national parks to cruises filled with shows and food. Schedule some weekends to get away to a quiet place for spiritual retreats together as well, seeking to learn and grow in your faith during your time together.

Accept the seasons of friendships in your life. Keep in mind that some of your friendships may last for many years, while others may only endure for a short season. Respect God’s timing for each friendship, realizing that each friendship accomplishes different purposes in your life and the lives of your friends. Enjoy the friendships you have, and let go of them when you or some of your friends need to move on.

Adapted from God, Grace, and Girlfriends: Adventures in Faith and Friendship,copyright 2011 by Mary R. Snyder. Published by New Hope Publishers, Birmingham, Al., www.wmustore.com.           

Mary R. Snyderr’s busy blog (http://www.maryrsnyder.com) is one of multiple ways crowds of women connect with this leader’s message of hope, joy, and adventure in Jesus Christ. As Premier Christian Cruises Girl’s Get-A-Way group coordinator, contest director, and girlfriend leader, Mary has a following that’s near, far, and across cultures because she carries God’s holy truth in her messages with God’s love, humor, and vivid detail.

Whitney Hopler is a freelance writer and editor who serves as both a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and the editor of About.com’s site on angels and miracles (http://angels.about.com/). Contact Whitney at: angels.guide@about.comto send in a true story of an angelic encounter or a miraculous experience like an answered prayer.