A Prayer for Church Unity

Composed for St. Paul’s and St. George’s Church, the Second Sunday of Epiphany; on the passage 1 Corinthians 1:1-17

Blessed God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, 

We thank you for this challenging passage before us today, and the challenging message we have just heard.  May the words we have heard today stick in our hearts and strengthen us to be your Body in the world, one in faith, hope, and love.  

We give thanks to you God for the grace that has been given us in Christ Jesus, that in every way we have been enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge, so that we are not lacking in any spiritual gift.  Lord, you have blessed us immensely.  You have blessed us with material gifts, with the gift of great freedom, with gifts of knowledge, as we today have the theological learning of two thousand years literally at our fingertips.  More particularly, you have blessed this congregation with gifts of preaching, of teaching, of counseling, of prayer, of singing, of serving, gifts of administration, gifts of evangelism, of fellowship, of hospitality.  Lord, within these four walls you have brought so many people empowered to serve one another, to serve this city, and to serve the wider world.  Lord, teach us to recognize these gifts, in one another and in ourselves, and to respond with thanksgiving and with zeal.  Send your Spirit to work in and alongside each of us, that these gifts may bear rich fruit—in sermons that build up your people here, in music that inspires our hearts and glorifies you, in Alpha Courses that bring your good news to the lost and questioning, in 24/7 Prayer that brings hope to the doubting and tears down strongholds of oppression, in small groups that study your word and strengthen your people, in projects that serve the homeless and lonely, in sacrificial giving that enriches lives not only here, but around the globe.  

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, make us one in your love.


Lord, we repent that there are divisions amongst us, that some of us are of Paul, and some of Apollos, and some of Cephas.  Lord, we know that even within this congregation, there are divisions and quarrels, there is pride and prejudice, there are petty preferences and dogmatic convictions that can hinder the fullness of our fellowship.  And yet, when we look wider, how much darker the picture becomes?  Here in Edinburgh alone, your church is splintered into dozens of denominations, some of which will have no fellowship with one another, and throughout our country and our world, the same divisions are mirrored.  Truly, the world may ask, and does ask, “Is Christ divided?”  Lord, heal our divisions, put an end to our strifes.  Show us where arrogance, bitterness, and lack of love have held us apart where we could and should be one in Christ.  And yet, Lord, we know that goodwill alone cannot solve these divisions.  You have called us to be “united in the same mind and the same judgment,” to unite around common conviction of the truth, and yet this is precisely what eludes us; it is precisely the “truth” that so often divides us.  Lord, illuminate us by your Word and Spirit, that we may perceive the common truth that hides under warring expressions and doctrinal formulations, that we may drink deeply from the spring of your Word and perceive the truths that you have given us there, truths that we have too often lost sight of, substituting for them our own pet ideas and self-justifications. 

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, make us one in your  love.

 

Lord, you have called us above all to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.  Remind us, Lord, that it is not anything we can do, anything the Church can do, that will make us effective servants of your kingdom, that will make us united in a world of division.  It is only the power of your Word, the power of your cross.  Lord, make that gospel powerful in this church, in our world, and in each of our lives.  By the power of your gospel, fill this Church the love that comes only with you, love that can overcome all our divisions, and with power and conviction to show that love to the lost around us.  We pray that your gospel would breathe new life into dying and divided churches around the United Kingdom, that pulpits would again be filled with the Spirit and with power, and that your churches would again be a powerful witness to the watching world.  By the power of your gospel, break down the walls of hate that divide not merely the churches, but the nations of the world, nations in the Third World torn by ethnic or religious war, nations in the First torn by political division.  Shatter the rod of the oppressor, especially, we pray, in Syria and North Korea.  By the power of your gospel, we pray that each of us would know in our own lives the glorious freedom from bondage that comes with the forgiveness of our sins and the gift of new hearts.  For those of your saints here who are struggling with sin, with despair, with doubt, we pray that your word would again illumine their hearts and minds, that they would feel again the power of the cross of Christ.   

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, make us one in your love.

 

O Gracious Father, we humbly beseech thee for thy holy Catholic Church, that thou wouldest be pleased to fill it with all truth, in all peace.  where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in any thing it is amiss, reform it.  Where it is right, establish it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of him who died and rose again, and ever liveth to make intercession for us, Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord.  Amen. 

2 thoughts on “A Prayer for Church Unity

  1. I appreciated this prayer. I particularly liked how you put this part: "And yet, Lord, we know that goodwill alone cannot solve these divisions. You have called us to be “united in the same mind and the same judgment,” to unite around common conviction of the truth, and yet this is precisely what eludes us; it is precisely the “truth” that so often divides us."The imperfectibility of this project is not simply due to stubborn refusal to seek unity but also arises from a desire for truth in a world where interpretation is both impossible to avoid and impossible to secure with absolute certainty.

    Like

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