Praying for Unity in Conflict [30 Days of Prayer]

Summer of Prayer Ads_Banner“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 17:23)

In our earthly lives, we will at times falter in the battlefields of conflict. We may find ourselves raising our voices against one another in anger or bitterness. Sometimes we do this to another’s face with harsh words and false accusations, while at other times we secretly pass the sweet morsels of gossip or shards of slander into the ears of another.

No matter how it happens, when we stumble into the lands of conflict, the journey toward restored relationships and unity must be infused with prayer. Yes, we must use the best of the wisdom found in the Proverbs of the Bible and the greatest advice of wise counselors. Still, true unity will never come through human efforts alone. When conflict arises in us or around us, the best first step is to fall down on our knees and cry out to the God of the universe in prayer. He alone can speak to the hearts of others – and also to our own hearts – about the causes of conflict and remedies for unity.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes: “Christ stands between us, and we can only get into touch with our neighbors through him. That is why intercession is the most promising way to reach our neighbors, and corporate prayer, offered in the name of Christ, the purest form of fellowship.”[1]

If your heart is bound with bitterness or rolling in rage, now is the time to desert the battlefields of conflict and seek the sweet remedy of the glory of God released in prayer. As we do this, we may surprisingly find that God not only changes the other person or situation, but He changes us as well. In fact, we may find that we are the one who most needs to be changed.

Prayer is truly the pathway to unity through transformed relationships.

the conflict rages all around us
  and within us.
We need Your help
  and Your grace,
to turn away from the battlefield
and turn to Your table.
There, help us sit
  as brothers and sisters
in Your holy presence,
  sharing the cup of our salvation
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship (New York: Touchstone, 1995).

[This post is part of the “30 Days of Prayer” devotional. Read other posts here.]

The Cost of Discipleship (discussion questions)

Here are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “The Cost of Discipleship,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. This is part of our series “The Kingdom Life.” The two texts for this week are Luke 13:22-30 and Luke 14:25-35.

Discussion Questions:

  1. When have you done something that really cost you something or had to sacrifice one pursuit for another?
  2. This weekend we continue “The Kingdom Life” series by looking at two passages Luke 13:22-30 and 14:25-35. Begin your study in prayer, asking God to speak to you, and then read those passages aloud.
  3. Jesus makes a statement and then tells a parable that illumines that statement in 13:22-27. How would you summarize what Jesus is saying here?
  4. There are several implications of Jesus’ teaching, which He outlines in 13:28-30. Which of these stands out most strongly to you?
  5. In Luke 14, Jesus delvers further into the costs of following Him. In verses 26-27, how does Jesus describe the cost of discipleship?
  6. Jesus offers two examples of rightly assessing the cost in 14:28-32. What do those tell you about following Him?
  7. When has following Jesus cost you something relationally, materially, or in terms of suffering?
  8. Jesus’ description of salt not losing its saltiness conveys something not losing its value by ceasing to be what it is. What might this mean in terms of discipleship?
  9. What is one way that God is speaking to you personally through this study? If you’re on your own, write it down and share it with someone later. If you are with a small group, discuss this together.

Daily Reading Plan

To encourage us together in our growth with God, we arranged a daily reading plan through this series. You can also join in with the daily devotional here. As you read each day, ask God to speak to you from His word.

Monday, May 1         Luke 13:22-30
Tuesday, May 2        Matthew 7:13-14
Wednesday, May 3  Matthew 19:16-30
Thursday, May 4       Luke 14:25-35
Friday, May 5             Matthew 10:37-39