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This text is a part of the Easy methods to Pray collection.

6 Methods to Pray

How can we pray for unity throughout denominational traces? I counsel we accomplish that through the use of John 17 as our information together with some observations from our contributors alongside the best way.


1. Pray for unity throughout denominational traces to be valued extremely.

Jesuss prayer that all of them could also be one (John 17:21) is commonly cited as a mandate for Christian unity and the truth that these phrases come from one of many last earthly prayers of our Lord provides them particular significance. Whereas we don’t place a premium on unity for unitys sake, we will pray that we are going to worth unity in a approach that values the prayer of our Lord. Dean of Beeson Divinity College Timothy George presents the suitable context for such a prayer:

Whereas I acknowledge myself as a Protestant, an evangelical, and a Baptist, none of these labels defines my non secular and ecclesial identification on the most elementary core stage. Being an evangelical Protestant, a Baptist, certainly a Southern Baptist, are all essential markers of my place inside the group of religion, however there’s a extra major identification I need to confess: I’m a Trinitarian Christian who by the grace of God belongs to the entire firm of the redeemed by the ages, those that are very members incorporate within the mystical physique of Christ (Guide of Widespread Prayer).1

So, we will pray for seen unity so far as we’re capable of specific it and we will pray for the continuing success of different denominations, understanding that every one who’ve repented from sin and are trusting in Christ alone belong to the identical Lord.

Anthony L. Chute, Christopher W. Morgan, Robert A. Peterson

Denominations, though usually maligned, are essential for the continued well being and vitality of the church. Contributors from quite a lot of evangelical traditions share their private tales for the sake of unity throughout denominational traces.

2. Pray for unity throughout denominational traces to be outlined biblically.

In the identical breath that Jesus prayed for our unity, he additionally prayed, Sanctify them within the fact; your phrase is fact (John 17:17). Denominations exist partially to permit Christians to cooperate with others of like thoughts however this doesn’t imply that every one different denominations are wrongheaded. There is no such thing as a unity the place Gods phrase just isn’t honored. Bryan Chapell affirms the significance of defining unity biblically:

Above any Presbyterian distinction are my evangelical convictions. I have to know {that a} churchs folks consider Jesus is their Savior from sin and reside for him earlier than I’ll take into account being part of that church (Rom. 3:2526; 10:9). It’s easy for me: the church is the physique of Christ (Col. 1:24). If a bunch figuring out itself because the church doesn’t proof his presence by humble dependence upon his technique of grace (Phrase, sacraments, and prayer) and trustworthy obedience to his instructions, then Jesus just isn’t actually honored there and that gathering of individuals just isn’t actually a church. However the place Christ is liked and lived, there actually is a church, even when it might be totally different in expression from my custom or desire (Eph. 4:46, 12, 16).2

We will pray for our brothers and sisters in numerous denominations to be trustworthy to Scripture as they characterize Christs church and we will pray that they’ll stay trustworthy even when others inside their denomination determine in any other case.

3. Pray for unity throughout denominational traces to be understood evangelistically.

Jesus prayed that our unity would even be a sworn statement such that the world might consider you have got despatched me (17:20). Partly reacting to the claims of the Roman Catholic Church that unity is primarily seen, we Protestants haven’t at all times appreciated how a visibly divided church can have a unfavorable influence on the world at giant. Jesuss prayer reminds us that the world is watching to see what God has carried out in Christ, and that our unity or disunity will issue into their conclusions. Chris Morgan, citing Pauls phrases in Ephesians 3:811, explains how church unity impacts the world and the cosmos:

God goes to do cosmically what he has already carried out for people in Christ; and God goes to do cosmically what he has carried out corporately with the Jews and Gentiles. All issues in heaven and on earth can be introduced collectively in Christ; all issues will spotlight Christ as the focus of the cosmos. So not solely is Christ the Savior of sinners and the Head of the church; he’s the objective of all the cosmos! . . . Amazingly, it’s the church as Gods seen exhibition that proclaims these cosmic functions. In a way, the church preaches Christ not solely to humanity within the verbal proclamation of the gospel, but in addition to all the cosmos by the seen show of unity.3

Pray that as we display unity throughout denominational traces that non-believers can be drawn to the identical Savior who drew us collectively.

4. Pray for unity throughout denominational traces to be practiced sympathetically.

Earlier than Jesus prayed for us, he prayed what solely he might pray about himself: I glorified you on earth, having achieved the work that you simply gave me to do (John 17:4). As a lot as we’d suppose that our denomination is nearer than others in its adherence to biblical fact, none of us believes that we’re excellent interpreters or excellent practitioners of Gods Phrase. All of us have fallen in need of Gods glory on this regard. We should always due to this fact be humble in our dealings with others, notably as we disagree on non-salvific problems with the religion.

For instance, I’m a Southern Baptist who affirms my denominations stance on the pastorate: Whereas each women and men are gifted for service within the church, the workplace of pastor is restricted to males as certified by Scripture (Baptist Religion and Message, 2000).

Byron Klaus, a Pentecostal believer says:

My dad and mother had been each ordained and served as co-pastors of the three congregations. . . . I truly didn’t even know that different Christian traditions had issues with ordained girls till I skilled that perspective in seminary. My mother, defending her place as an ordained lady minister, by no means included any kind of offended polemic. She merely mentioned that God had known as her; who was she to reject Gods name? She added that there have been locations she went to evangelise that males had been afraid to go or thought had been beneath them. She would say there have been folks perishing just because males wouldn’t go to these locations.4

Although I couldn’t in good conscience belong to a church the place the pastorate contains women and men, I can perceive why Klaus believes in any other case. What’s extra, I admire him for following his beliefs on this regard and pray that he would provide comparable sympathy in the direction of my place. Jesuss prayer once more helps us towards this finish: I made identified to them your identify, and I’ll proceed to make it identified, that the love with which you have got liked me could also be in them, and I in them (John 17:26).

The world might not know why we differ over problems with polity, baptism or non secular items, however the world ought to know that we’re united in our pursuit of holiness.

5. Pray for unity throughout denominational traces to be displayed boldly.

Jesus prayed not for the world, however for many who would consider: I’m not praying for the world however for these whom you have got given me, for they’re yours (John 17:9). Furthermore, he prayed, I don’t ask that you simply take them out of the world, however that you simply hold them from the evil one (John 17:15). Christians could also be divided into denominations over doctrinal points, however we needs to be united in our opposition to sin in our personal lives and evil on this world.

Timothy Tennent cites John Wesleys contribution to Methodist pondering on this regard:

Wesley additionally understood that holiness just isn’t merely a unfavorable time period. It’s not nearly sins we keep away from. Methodists consider that even should you had been to eradicate each sin in your life, you’d solely be midway there. As a result of, for Wesley, holiness is rarely nearly sins we keep away from; its about fruit we produce! In Wesley, religion and fruit meet and are joyfully wed. We now not have a view of holiness that’s legalistic, personal, unfavorable, and static. It’s not merely authorized, however relational; not merely personal, however embedded in group; not unfavorable, however a real imaginative and prescient of the in-breaking of Gods rule and reign! The witness of the Spirit that confirms religion turns into in Wesley the ability of the Spirit to supply fruit and to rework the worldto unfold scriptural holiness all through the world!5

The world might not know why we differ over problems with polity, baptism, or non secular items, however the world ought to know that we’re united in our pursuit of holiness. We will, due to this fact, pray that denominations won’t buckle to the threats of the age however will as an alternative take a stand for holiness in all spheres of life.

6. Pray for unity throughout denominational traces to be anticipated joyfully.

In Johns Gospel, Jesus regularly mentions that his hour has not but come or an hour is coming, referring to his saving work on the cross. On this prayer, nevertheless, he states, Father, the hour has come (John 17:1). One notes the sense of longing that Jesus has as he prays, And now, Father, glorify me in your personal presence with the glory that I had with you earlier than the world existed (John 17:5). We too will share in that glory, as Jesus prays, I need that in addition they, whom you have got given me, could also be with me the place I’m, to see my glory that you’ve got given me since you liked me earlier than the muse of the world (John 17:24). After we lastly see Christ in all of his glory, it won’t be as Anglicans or Presbyterians, however merely as Christians. David Dockery factors us to this actuality by pointing again to a sermon delivered by George Whitefield in 1740:

Father Abraham, Whom have you ever in heaven? Any Episcopalians?

No!

Any Presbyterians?

No!

Any Independents or Seceders, New Sides or Previous Sides, any Methodists?

No! No! No!

Whom have you ever there, then, Father Abraham?

We dont know these names right here! All who’ve come are Christiansbelievers in Christ, males who’ve overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the phrase of his testimony . . . 6

Praying for unity throughout denominational traces just isn’t a path to empty ecumenism on this facet of heaven; somewhat it is a chance to answer Jesuss prayer for his church, of which he’s the pinnacle and is himself its Savior.

Notes:

  1. Why We Belong, ed. Anthony L. Chute, Christopher W. Morgan, and Robert A. Peterson, (Wheaton: Crossway, 2013), 94.
  2. Ibid, 179.
  3. Ibid, 24.
  4. Ibid, 154-155.
  5. Ibid, 154-155.
  6. Ibid, 210.

Anthony Chute is coeditor with Christopher W. Morgan and Robert A. Peterson of Why We Belong: Evangelical Unity and Denominational Variety.



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