By Bill Delvaux, Crosswalk.com
The longing for unity is written into the soul of every human being. It can be dismissed, ignored, or corrupted, but the drive toward oneness remains a rock-solid reality.
Think for a moment about the pandemic through which we are maneuvering. How many times have you heard: “We will get through this together.” It’s not only our hope to survive the pandemic. It’s our collective desire to survive it together with others.
Here’s another example: Every time the Olympics come around, there is always conversation about the wonder of seeing all the nations competing. More importantly, there is the expressed hope that this will lead us toward unity among those nations.
And as we face racial unrest together, the push toward justice has also been accompanied by hopes and prayers for unity.
So, how do we know that the longing for unity is a real possibility and not just some utopian dream?
I believe the unity of the human race is not just a possibility but the whole trajectory of redemption. When Jesus appeared, He set a course in history that will take the human race into true unity.
The best way to see this is to look at a part of the prayer He spoke right before His death. In John 17, He first prays for Himself and then His disciples. Finally, He prays for all who will believe in Him throughout history.
What is the one thing He prays for? Wisdom, peace, love? No. He prays for unity:
…that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you (John 17:21).
In light of how Jesus prayed for unity, here are four prayers for unity among all people:
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1. A Prayer for Unity among the Followers of Jesus
Jesus, I know that you spilt your blood in a terrible death so that we could be reconciled to your Father. But You desire so much more. Your death and resurrection opened the way for reconciliation between us. You desire us to experience oneness of heart and mind because of what You have done. Thank you for the moments of unity we have felt in our families, our friends, and our churches. This is surely Your work among us.
But sadly, there is still so much division among those who call on Your name. We come and confess our arrogance and divisiveness. We confess our racial biases and socio-economic prejudices. We confess our lack of empathy and compassion toward those who are very different from us.
We know Your way is so different and so much better. Lead us on into unity with You at the center. May our deepening affection for You draw us into a deepening affection for each other. You love us in all of our diversity. May we see others from different races and cultures as a part of the path to unity, not a roadblock to it.
I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one.
2 Corinthians 5:18
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.
…then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.
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2. A Prayer for All to Experience the Love of the Father and Son
Jesus, You know the only way true unity can happen is if we first see ourselves as deeply loved by You. We are in fact so loved by You that You submitted to torture and death so that we could be set free from our sins. As we experience Your love for us, we will then be empowered to love those around us, even those who are very different from us.
Father, we confess that we often don’t know how to receive Your love, that we live as orphans and not as your beloved sons and daughters. Instead of being rooted in that love, we continue to place our trust in our best efforts or in our money or in our leaders. As a result, our hearts stay rooted in pride, envy, hatred, and shame.
Come and free us. We long to experience the love You had for Your Son. We long to experience the height and depth of Your Son’s love. We long to have the iron bars and bronze shackles broken from our hearts. Pour out Your love into all hearts by the Holy Spirit, who is the fire of love, so that we may know the unity of love.
I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.
And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
1 John 3:1
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!
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3. A Prayer That the Whole World May Believe
Holy Spirit, you are the One who not only draws us together as one but draws the watching world to see this amazing unity. We ask for the experience of unity not just for the benefit of ourselves but also for all those who still live in darkness, bondage, and unbelief. We ask that they would see the love that we are enjoying and desire that for themselves. We ask that they would see Jesus among us and come to believe in Him themselves.
Lord, we know that Your heart is for the whole world, for every tribe and language, for every race and ethnicity. What we see as the cause for division, You see as the cause for celebration. You love all that diversity and desire to see it flourish in Your love. Thank You that wherever Your message is received, there is peace. Thank You that wherever Your presence is perceived, there is transformation.
Now lift up our eyes beyond the schisms and hostility we see around us. Lift up our hearts to see that You long to have the circle of unity spread outward through the whole world. Lift up our eyes in hope as to what can be and to what one day will be.
May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.
After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.
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4. A Prayer to Experience the Unity That the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit Enjoy
Jesus, when You lived among us, You always had Your Father’s heart and desire before you. What He spoke, You spoke. What He did, You did. You lived in a constant conversation and communion in which there was no shame, no division, no conflict. You lived in a secure bond with the Father that was only broken at the cross for our behalf.
Now, wonder of wonders, You invite us up to enjoy that secure bond. We are to experience unity because it is Your unity that we experience, the Father always loving the Son and the Son always loving the Father. And Holy Spirit, you are that love between them.
We will take halting steps into unity at present, but one day, we will know the fullness of that unity. For now, fill us with hope in the midst of all the war and racial divide. Fill us with hope in Your promise to make all of this come true. Amen.
Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.
…that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”
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