Praying Toward Unity: a simple resource for prayer on our own or with others

Over the past few days, I preached and then have written (here and here) about living as a unified church in divided days. Talking about unity is great, but my sense at this time is that we need more than talk…we need to take a step. And so, I’d like to encourage us to pray about unity. I’m offering a brief reflective prayer tool below that you could use on your own or with others. It is built around a series of questions that could lead you to reflective confession and intercession. But first, I think it is important to just take a moment to be still. So why don’t you take a minute or two (you may even want to set a timer) to still ourselves before God.


First, we know that the essence of our kingdom life is focused on Jesus. It’s all about Jesus. So let’s prayerfully consider this question:

How do I need to return to the truth that life is all about Jesus and God’s Kingdom?

  • maybe something else is distracting us at this time
  • maybe we’ve become confused about what is most important
  • maybe there are ways we need to simply say again to the Lord: “it’s all about you…but I’ve lost my way”

Take several minutes to reflect on these questions and consider what you might need to ask of the Lord in your own life or in your church family.


Now, consider with me a second question that is particularly pertinent as we have walked through great seasons of difficulty. Many times we can point the finger at our circumstances or at others as the source of our problems. However, as we continue to let the Holy Spirit search through us, consider this:

What do I need to lay down at the foot of the Cross, specifically surrendering it to Jesus?

  • maybe there is a fear that has gripped our heart
  • maybe there is anger that is stewing within us
  • maybe there is bitterness that has hardened within your soul
  • Regardless of what might be there, what do we each need to lay down at the foot of the Cross during this season?

Take several minutes to reflect on these questions and consider what you might need to ask of the Lord in your own life or in your church family.


Finally, prayerfully consider this question:

How is God specifically calling me to love others and support the unity of the church during this season of time?

  • maybe there is a specific person that comes to mind that we need help loving
  • maybe there is situation or environment that is difficult for us to engage in because of past experiences or hurts
  • regardless of what is there, in this moment let us hold it up to God and ask Him to help us grow in love and unity

Close out your time with several minutes of stillness before the Lord. Let God speak to you about what you have just walked through in prayer. Thank Him for His goodness and grace in your life and ask for His power to walk in a manner worthy of the calling you have received in Christ.

Looking Back and Stepping Forward: a new year’s message

 

This past weekend at Eastbrook, I preached a message, “Looking Back and Stepping Forward,” which was a stand-alone message for the new year. I shared some practices – looking back at the past year and stepping forward into the new year – that have helped me most over the years to close out one year and begin another.

The message was rooted in the psalms, drawing three practices for reflection (giving thanks, lament, repentance) and three practices of anticipation (focus, dedication, praise) together as a rubric for standing at the threshold of changing calendar years.

You can watch my message from this past weekend and follow along with the message outline below. You can also engage with other sermon series here or download the Eastbrook mobile app for even more resources or opportunities to connect.

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New Year: Questions for growth, reflection, and prayer

crossroadsMany of us make resolutions for growth and change in the New Year. Unfortunately, statistics show that most of these resolutions do not hold for long or really make much long-term change. I believe this is in large part because we do not include the Living God in this process of resolution, and also because we do not let our resolutions penetrate deep enough into our vision for the year and the transformation of our will. The following series of questions are intended as a tool for reflection upon the previous year and resolution into the coming year.

Reflecting back:

What am I most thankful for from the past year (5-10 items)?

How have I most seen God at work in me or around me this past year (3-7 items)?

Who am I closest to in my life and how has that proved true this past year (2-3 items)?

In what ways am I experiencing a lack of resolution from this past year in my personal life, my relationships, my endeavors, or my life with God (2-3 items)?

What must I confess to God or repent over from this past year (2-3 items)?

Gather all these responses up in prayer before God, concluding with the Lord’s Prayer.

Looking forward:

What am I most looking forward to in this coming year (5-10 items)?

What do I sense are my greatest desires or needs for growth with God this year (2-3 items)? What are the practical means by which I will pursue that growth daily, weekly, or monthly?

Who do I want to become this new year?
What must I let go of in order to grow in this way (2-3 items)?
What must I grab ahold of in order to grow in this way (2-3 items)?

How are my relationships helping or hindering my growth with God or my development as a person (2-3 items)?
What relationships must I prioritize and how will I practically do this daily, weekly, and monthly in this coming year?

In what ways do I sense God is inviting me to serve Him by serving others this year (3-7 items)
How will I do that practically on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis?

Gather these responses up in prayer before God, trusting His providence for your life, relinquishing control of your life, and yielding your will actively to the Holy Spirit for strengthening. Conclude with the Lord’s Prayer.

Saturday Prayer 19

You know me, Lord, completely
no whim, desire, or thought escapes You
honestly, that makes me nervous at times
You see the best of my dreams
and the worst of my longings

in all the scurrying around of my life,
in all my internal rush and hurry,
come and search through my life, God
find out everything about me
and then lead me on the pathway of eternal life

[This is part of a series of prayer posts in 2012 that began here.]