A prayer for unity
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me”. (John 17:20-23, NIV)
‘How good and pleasant it is
when God’s people live together in unity!
It is like precious oil poured on the head,
running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron’s beard,
down on the collar of his robe.
It is as if the dew of Hermon
were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the Lord bestows his blessing,
even life forevermore.’ (Psalm 133, NIV)
‘Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace’ (Ephesians 4:3)
Jesus’ prayer in John 17 expresses his deep longing, for his church to be united, as a witness to this world of the power of the gospel. Sadly, the church so often lacks unity, and the division within Christ’s body can undermine its witness. The truth is, if we are in Christ the Holy Spirit has made us one with every other believer. Our task is not to create unity, but to work hard to keep the unity the Spirit has made.
Prayerfully reflect on these questions, and note any things the Holy Spirit prompts you with:
- How does disunity in the church make you feel? Within our church, between denominations, and across the world?
- Are there any attitudes you hold, which you know work against the unity for which Jesus prayed? How is God stirring you to keep the unity he has made?
- How aware are you of Christians from outside of your church tradition or experience? How can you express solidarity with the global church, and keep their needs and experiences in your mind and prayers?
Father, Son and Spirit,
I marvel at your love for one another,
So sweet and untainted by
Selfishness and division.
May your church embody the same love,
That others may marvel,
And long to taste it themselves.
I picture myself today,
Standing in your arms of love,
Knowing those arms are large enough
To hold all my brothers and sisters.
Those I know, And don’t know;
Understand, and don’t understand;
Agree with, and disagree with.
May we rest as one in You.
Would your presence, like oil,
Cleanse us from unrighteousness,
Heal our wounds and hurts,
And cause us to shine,
As a witness to the power of your gospel,
And your plan to unite in yourself,
All things in heaven and on earth.
This week why not reach out to some fellow believers, whether inside your church, or from another church? You may want to do one of the following, as an expression of unity:
- Reach out to someone from a different type of church to yours and ask how you can be praying for them and their church. Ask them questions about their church and their expression of faith, in order to better understand them, and appreciate their difference.
- With some friends, take a walk around your neighbourhood. Notice every church you pass by, and for each one, stop and pray a prayer of blessing over that church.
- Spend some time researching about the experience of the persecuted church in other parts of the world. Perhaps reach out to people you know who are in churches in different nations. Set aside some time, by yourself or with others, to pray for churches and believers in other nations.