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.

Father,
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.
Amen.


[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.]

Martin Luther on the Ninth Commandment

This past weekend at Eastbrook, I spoke about the Ninth and Tenth Commandments from Exodus 20:16-17 in a message entitled “The Neighbor.” I came across an interesting quotation from Martin Luther about the Ninth Commandment:

Knowledge of sin does not entail the right to judge it. I may see and hear that my neighbor sins, but to make him the talk of the town is not my business….Those are called backbiters who are not content just to know but rush ahead and judge. Learning a bit of gossip about someone else, they spread it into every corner, relishing and delighting in it like pigs that roll in the mud and root around in it with their snouts. This is nothing else than usurping the judgment and office of God, pronouncing the severest kind of verdict and sentence, for the harshest verdict a judge can pronounce is to declare somebody a thief, a murderer, a traitor, etc. Whoever therefore ventures to accuse his neighbor of such guilt assumes as much authority as the emperor and all magistrates. For though you do not wield the sword, you use your venomous tongue to the disgrace and harm of your neighbor. (quoted in David Hazony, The Ten Commandments, pp. 214-215).

The Neighbor

Chiseled ThumbWe concluded our series on the Ten Commandments, “Chiseled,” this weekend at Eastbrook Church by looking at the ninth and tenth commandments from Exodus 20:16-17.

Many commentators divide the Ten Commandments into two categories: 1) those dealing more with how we relate to God and 2) those dealing more with how we relate to others. Strictly speaking, the final two commandments are the only ones that mention the word ‘neighbor’, drawing into focus the ways in which we treat those around us.

The outline for the message is below. You can view the message online here or listen to it via our audio podcast here. You can now access all the messages from the “Chiseled” series here. You can also visit Eastbrook Church on VimeoFacebook, Twitter and Instagram.

This series is part three of an occasional series we are doing from Exodus. You can enjoy the first two parts of this extended series on Exodus here:

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