Jesus Teaches Us to Pray for Unity

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In the vision for my blog I made my readers a promise. That promise was to be real. This past week my soul grieved. In my church body, we are going through a trying time. Our numbers have been declining for the last twenty years or so. This conflict has led to heated debates on what direction we should take. The natural tendency when you are sick is to ignore all the signs. You just hope the illness goes away, or to try radical new treatments to save the dying organization. Both sides of this pendulum are colliding with tremendous force in my church body. And this week I got caught in the middle of it. I am not on either side. I just want to find a way to connect those far from Jesus to Jesus.

At fifty plus years old I have reached a point in my life where I have no taste for fighting anymore. God’s mission is too important. Those far from God are too important. As we look at Jesus’ High Priestly prayer, the next section deals with unity. Jesus prayed that the believers be united. So, today as I a write this, I have a heavy heart. I too wish we could stop fighting against each other and fight against our common opponent Satan and his army.

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. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” John 17:20-23

William Wallace, the leading character in the movie “Braveheart” chastised his fellow Scots for allowing minor issues, internal strife, and power struggles to stand in the way of their fight for independence from the English. “We have beaten the English, but they’re back because you won’t stand together.” I feel that is what is happening far too often in the church. The enemy, Satan, has been defeated. When Jesus Christ rose on Easter Sunday, the message was clear. “Satan, you are finished! Christ is victorious.” But with our internal fights and disagreements, we have turned the sweet taste of victory into the bitterness of defeat. Understand, I realize disagreement is a part of relationships, but what is not normal is the inability to move one. When there are issues that need correcting, the church needs to have those discussions. If we fail to teach the truth of God’s word we are doing the work of Christ a disservice. There also needs to be a desire at the end of the day to work together to do our shared mission.

In this High Priestly prayer notice how often the word “one” is used. “One” it appears in verse 21, twice in 11 and 22. The unity of God’s church should reflect the unity of the Father and the Son. Verse 23 reveals to us the nature of this agreement: the Son is obedient to the Father, and the Father loves the Son (v 23). Paul describes us as many members, but one body (Rom 12:4-5, Col 3:15).

To be crystal clear, to be one is not the absence of opinions. Opinions are healthy. But this unity is the lack of divisions. The church causes the greatest damage when it allows disagreement and disunity to grow in the body like an open sore. That open sore unchecked only festers and swells and spreads until it kills the body. Disunity weakens the effectiveness of the gospel. It scatters the flock. Disunity muffles the church’s witness in the world. The outside world looks at a church without unity and asks, “Who can believe their message?”

Let us not be divided, but united, to grow the church into what God would have it be. A pastor reminded me when I started in ministry, “there is nothing on earth like the local church when it is working right. It has the power to transform and changes lives.” Followers of the Lord Jesus Christ know that He is praying for you.

Jesus wants us to live as children of God. He promises to give us the strength to face whatever comes. Remember to pray for those around you and those far away. Bear in mind that we are to be salt and light to a bland and dark world. Bear in mind that Jesus is praying for us. Be like the tree of Psalm 1, “…their delight is in the law of the Lord…They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in due season.”

Other posts in this series on Prayer:
https://revheadpin.org/2016/07/13/how-prayer-can-be-like-eating-healthy
https://revheadpin.org/2016/07/20/how-to-pray-with-a-thankful-spirit
https://revheadpin.org/2016/07/27/learning-to-pray-for-others-from-jesus
https://revheadpin.org/2016/08/03/learning-to-pray-for-deliverance-from-jesus

 

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29 thoughts on “Jesus Teaches Us to Pray for Unity

  1. This is a great post Keith! We must be unified to present the Truth to the world. Jesus said, “I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, STRENGTHEN YOUR BROTHERS” Luke 22:32 (NIV)

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  2. ” The church causes the greatest damage when it allows disagreement and disunity to grow in the body like an open sore”. True words – I have seen division and disunity let Satan in the “door” of the church and once he’s in it’s sometimes hard to get him out. Thank you for such a thought provoking blog post. Blessings!

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  3. Hi – I agree with so much – however- just wanted to add a thought about the declining church sizes – in my opinion I see that many times God wants congregations small – and the mega church has a place – but when numbers decline it could be a good thing – or an appointed thing – further – we are the church and we bring our sanctuary with us – as I am sure you know – and so as we are to not “forsake the gathering together” it seems America has their version of this as the church as a business – don’t even want to get started on how I feel about this – except to say we should not grieve that churches are on the decline because many times it leads to house church or a new wave of assembling that meets the needs of today – the current Sunday meeting is a farm schedule leftover and well – many spiritual things get missed when we look at numbers – I know unity is attacked by the enemy (who comes to divide – rob kill and destroy) – but many times this stirs up needed movement –
    Have a great day and bless you for your passion 💕

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      1. Yes – I think I got that – as well as other things layered that were spot on – I was just chiming in a bit – and your point about unity – whew – so important – peace

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      2. I thought you got it, but for those who may think attendance and size of congregation was my issue it is not. It is the impact I see the in-fighting is having on the mission of the church. Blessings my friend. And chime in more. 🙂

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  4. I also believe in the importance of interceding and praying for others. I’ll include your concern in my prayers… unburden your heavy heart to God and let Him do the wonders! God bless you! ☺

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  5. I really appreciate this. I recently read the book Disunity in Christ by Christena Cleveland. Are you familiar with it? I have been thinking about it a lot, especially in relation to our church body.

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  6. Just now meeting you! so hard to go through in a congregation. And have you ever read the book, Bait of Satan, by John Bevere? He talks about how taking offense with each other is a huge problem in the church. Like my pastor once said, if we only knew what’s really at stake– the souls for eternity. (Not to mention the heart of God for His bride!)

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  7. Yes Keith Unity in the Church is very important but agreeing to disagree never works that is why we have so many different Denominations, Home Churches and Cults, which Paul warned against, we follow Jesus Christ, not man. God is a God of Unity not division.

    He tells us there will be differences in the Church but this does not mean we are to agree to disagree, like arguing it just ends in division, we are to do what God tells us to do when we have differences and that is to bring them to Him, there is only one Truth and that is His, The Holy Spirit does not say one thing to someone and something different to another when they contradict, we are to be in agreement, we are also to be the Salt and correct error if needed and if that meansf we have to break our own self orientated fleshy agenda, than so be it!

    1 Corinthians 1: 10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

    Philippians 3:14-16 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be Perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, where to we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.

    2Corinthians 13:11 Finally, brethren, farewell. Be Perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in Peace; and the God of Love and Peace shall be with you.

    What is the Secret of Church Unity, we see the answer in the Song below but it is not to be Saccharine sweet but Genuine and Sacrificial.

    Philippians 2:1-17 If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of Love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same Love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

    Christian Love and Blessings – Anne.

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