Every Thursday morning a group of men gather to pray in our main sanctuary at West London Alliance Church (If you’re a man who attends WLAC, consider joining us from 6:30-7:30). Part of our prayer liturgy is 10-15 minutes of individual prayer in which we use a prayer of confession from a book of prayers called Prone to Wander. It is, quite simply, an excellent book. Even though I am often convicted using these prayers, they are food for my soul.
Last week the prayer of confession was one on unity. Once again, I found myself convicted and in need of the forgiveness that God offers through Christ. The authors do a great job of writing out prayers that are theologically sound, biblically infused, and intellectually and emotionally striking.
For instance, this line from last week’s prayer was a startling image that helped me realize where I have sinned in regards to unity, particularly an unwillingness to suffer for unity’s sake: “Jesus, thank you for your willingness to allow your physical body to be shattered and broken to establish the unity of your spiritual body, the church.”
Here is the prayer of confession without the book’s accompanying call to confession, assurance of pardon, and suggested hymns:
You are one God in three persons, a diverse unity in whom there is neither division nor contention. You call us also to be one body made up of many different members, with different gifts and abilities, as well as different needs and failings. We confess that we often take pride in our own gifts and look down on those who lack them, while thinking little about our need for the gifts of others in the body. We form factions and cliques that promote and support our own interests, desperately trying to attract the favor of those whom we think strong, while despising and shunning those whom we see as weak, unattractive, or broken. Father, forgive us.
Jesus, thank you for your willingness to allow your physical body to be shattered and broken to establish the unity of your spiritual body, the church. Thank you that in you we have a unity that transcends all earthly boundaries: in you, there is neither Jew nor Gentile, male nor female, slave nor free. Thank you for the particular love and care that you bestowed on the weakest and most ignored members of your community, especially women, children, and outcasts. By your gracious attention, you gave honor to those who lacked it. As the only mediator between us and the Father, you unite all your people in yourself.
Holy Spirit, you are the one who gives each of us our various gifts and callings. Help us to see and appreciate your work in other Christians, honoring them more highly than ourselves. Remove our stony, self-centered hearts and give us hearts of flesh that love our brothers and sisters in Christ and value them just as they are. Teach us to love them with all their weaknesses and sins, as beloved children of our own heavenly Father and servants of the same Master. Bind us firmly together into one new people, united by Christ’s work on the cross and your continuing work in each of our hearts. Amen.
(Duguid, Barbara. Prone to Wander: Prayers of Confession and Celebration (p. 166). P&R Publishing. Kindle Edition.)