Prayer: Costly Unity for the Sake of the Gospel (1 Corinthians 9:19-27)

Heavenly Father, we thank you that you have welcomed us into your family with extravagant grace. Though we deserved nothing but condemnation from you, we thank you for lavishing goodness on us in Jesus Christ, who freely gives us forgiveness, life, and a family to belong.

Gracious Father, we are humbled by your humility in seeking us. We stand in awe of your strength and love that you chose to surrender your right to honor and glory to accept suffering and death you did not deserve, all to serve us and save us in love while we were still your enemies. So please help us to lay aside all prejudice and pride so that we can love others in that same humble way that you have loved us. Please give us supernatural sight to see others as you see them, as people who bear your image with sacred dignity whom you love.

For people whose temptations and sins are different than ours, please give us your empathy and compassion. Please help us to see ourselves as fellow sinners with them, all of us in desperate need of your steadfast love and grace and power.

For people whose history and experience and culture is different than ours, please give us abundant patience to love by being slow to speak and quick to listen with a desire to learn the wisdom they have and the challenges that they face. By your great power, we pray that we would welcome as you have welcomed us, that we would gladly accept and forgive those whom you accept and forgive, and that we would be bold enough and secure enough in you to share your truth with each other and to help each other to repent and be transformed and walk in your light in a way that brings life and freedom. We pray that you will help us do these very things at our conferences at Central this month on politics and missions, to learn to be ambassadors of your reconciliation and gospel hope in the midst of our culture’s anger and despair.

Prince of Peace, when this is hard for us because we have been hurt, please help us bring our conflicts to the foot of the cross and pursue peace and work at being peacemakers. When we are afraid and offended, when we have made mistakes, when we have sinned against each other, and our emotions run high, please deliver us from being poisoned by anger and bitterness that give the evil one a foothold in our lives, and please give us the strength to forgive much since we have been forgiven so much more by you.

Please make us, Central Presbyterian Church, a people who are servants of all because we are citizens of heaven and the King who rules over all in love. Whatever gifts you have given into our hands: gifts of education or position, or skills, or relationships, please make us eager to lay those gifts at your feet and to give as generously as you have given to us. Please show us this week the needs of people around us, and give us courage and strength to be servants to friends and family, to co-workers and neighbors, so that we can know the joy and transforming power of your mission in the strength of your Spirit.

And we pray all of this with bold confidence that you will fulfill all your promises in the power and fullness of your kingdom, and we pray for this in the words you taught us, saying: “Our Father. . .

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