Four Steps to Pray Effective Prayers for Unity and Peace
I miss normal. Between the worldwide pandemic and the recent nationwide unrest, my emotions have run the gamut from outrage to fear to extreme sadness with quite a few stops in between. Maybe yours have, too. If only we knew how to pray for peace and unity in our country and actually achieve it…
We’re embroiled in a divisive battle on multiple fronts. Passions surge about historical figures, racial prejudice, economic inequality, injustice and violence against a variety of groups, politicians, political credos, and whether or not we choose to wear a mask in public. All of us, it seems, have an firmly entrenched opinion and we’re fairly certain our viewpoint is the only correct one.
United? We seem anything but.
I want my comfortable life back and I’m more than willing to take action to make a difference. My desire, like many of us, is to do something big, dramatic, showy. Something that will bring a quick fix. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix. Only God can bring the changes we so desperately need and prayer is the “something” we should do.
Keep reading to learn four steps to pray effective prayers for peace and unity.
Can Prayers for Unity and Peace Make a Difference in Our Nation?
Can prayer help move our nation toward peace and unity? Yes.
The Bible is filled with stories of God’s rescue for men and women who prayed in times of national peril. How, then, do we pray as they prayed and reap a harvest of peace and unity?
We need look no further than the Lord’s response to Solomon at the dedication of the temple. He not only knew the people would sin and drift far from Him, He also knew He would discipline them, the discipline would be difficult to bear, and His people could easily lose heart. In a show of grace and mercy, He provided a way through their sin and discipline to healing of their hearts and their land.
“If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and forgive their sins and restore their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14
We are a nation filled with sin of every kind, rebellion against God, and hearts so far from Him many are convinced He’s either irrelevant or non-existent. The problem is not just unbelievers—those in the church are often far from obedient, too. If ever a nation stood at the precipice of God’s judgment and discipline, the United States is there.
We desperately need sweeping repentance and radical heart change if we are to have peace and unity. Can we have the kind of healing promised in 2 Chronicles 7:14? Yes, we can. Although this promise was given specifically to the nation of Israel, the principle still applies.
Unfortunately, our tendency is to focus on God’s part without considering the depth and extent of our part. Humility? Repentance? Turn from sin? It’s a lot easier to say a quick prayer and leave it at that, but miraculous healing doesn’t work that way.
Prayers for Peace and Unity Must be Preceded by Heart Change
God’s instructions for a nation in time of peril are both clear and specific. The prayer He demands is more than words and platitudes. More than bent knees and bowed head. The prayer for healing a nation requires humility, repentance, and actively seeking His face. Hearts must change before miraculous intervention will come. God will accept no less.
Four Steps in Praying Prayers for Unity and Peace:
Repentance, humility, and seeking God’s face, all acts of communication with God, are prayer and the starting point for effective intercession of any kind. They are essential in prayers for peace and unity.
Step One: Relinquish Our Sin
- Recognition of sin, confession, and a determination to, with God’s help, forsake our wrongdoing are essential parts of relinquishing sin.
- Do we love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength? It’s sin if we don’t.
- Is God in first place before anything and anyone else? It’s sin if He’s not.
- If we know what we should do, but we don’t do it, it’s sin. Obedience is not optional for disciples of Christ.
- Do we love our neighbor (no matter what color their skin, sexual orientation, economic status, educational level, willingness to wear a face mask, or any other “divider”) in the same way we love ourselves? If not, change is mandatory. Love your neighbor includes every single person on this earth, whether we like them and their actions or not.
- If we do what we know we should not, it’s sin and we must—by the power of God—stop doing it.
Sin must go. It’s that simple. It’s that hard.
Step Two: Choose Humility
- Remember our sinful state. A sense of entitlement is prevalent enough in our culture to be called the norm, but there is no room for entitlement in the Kingdom of God. Our righteousness is as filthy rags before God (Isaiah 64:6) and we deserve nothing more than death and destruction from Him. With God’s help, we must examine ourselves for hidden sin and repent.
- Recall the humility of Jesus who left the riches of heaven to come to earth and live in poverty. (2 Corinthians 8:9) Though fully God, He humbled Himself as a bondservant and willingly died on a cross He didn’t deserve to save us from our sins. (Philippians 2:8)
- Choose to humble ourselves in the same way Jesus did. Forgive quickly. Choose the lowly position. Accept the least attractive service with joy. Embrace those who are different. Submit to authority, even when we disagree. Love with abandon.
Step Three: Seek God’s Face
- We were not called to be “pew-sitters”who attend services but do not live out their faith in tangible ways outside the walls of the church. Pew-sitting is not the way of a disciple. We seek God and His Kingdom when we both educate ourselves about God, His ways, and His expectations for his followers through in-depth Bible study and also put what we learn into action by acts of obedience and service to others.
- Choose God’s ways and not our own by making Him our number one priority and loving our neighbors (no matter how different) as ourselves.
- Ask God to convict us of sin, warn us in temptation, and direct us in His paths and not our own.
- Seek God’s face (knowing Him) before we seek His hand (what He can give).
Step Four: Pray
- Acknowledge our inability to solve the crisis on our own.
- Pray for those in authority at all levels, regardless of how “godly” those leaders seem. God can turn the heart of a king (and a leader) like channels of water. Pray He will turn their hearts in His direction so they will make godly choices, even if they are not godly people. (Proverbs 21:1)
- Pray for justice tempered with mercy in situations of injustice. (Psalm 33:5)
- Pray for people to find common ground rather than focus on their differences.(Romans 12:16)
- Pray for calm and open communication between different factions. (Psalm 19:14)
- Pray for small beginnings to grow. (Zechariah 4:10)
- Pray God’s people will do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly. (Micah 6:8)
- Pray for ways to take action to build peace and unity and the willingness to do them. (James 4:17)
Sample Prayer for Unity and Peace:
Oh God, we confess our failure to love you with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. We confess our failure to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. We confess our stubborn, judgmental, critical spirits, our prejudice, our pride, and our sinful ways. Forgive us, we pray.
Our nation is in an uproar and we are utterly dependent on You, God, for we have already proved we cannot bring peace and unity with words, protests, violence, or legislation. Our eyes are on you for answers and healing.
Direct the hearts of leaders at every level, whether governmental, community or church, as you direct channels of water. Move their hearts to make godly decisions even if they are not godly people.
We ask you to cleanse our hearts of anything that is not pleasing to You, especially prejudice and a divisive spirit. Help us turn from our old ways of division and injustice and choose righteousness.
Bring us to common ground where we can celebrate both our similarities and our differences and help us to love one another as You have loved us.
Make the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts acceptable in Your sight.
Help us to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with you. Bring justice tempered with mercy to those who have suffered injustice.
More important, God, we ask you to give us Your heart for others and fill us with a willingness for unity. Fill us with love for those most like us and for those who are least like us. Bring healing to our land. Bring the peace that passes all understanding. Begin with me and help me to share Your peace, Your love, Your healing to all I meet.
In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.
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