As the nation bows its collective head this Thursday in observance of the National Day of Prayer we will be reminded of the Biblical mandate to pray for those in authority, whether we agree with them or not. We will be reminded to pray God’s will be done on earth, even it that means we have to sacrifice some of our comforts for the welfare of others. We will be reminded that this world is not our home and that the boundaries and borders of current nation states are more fluid over time than we’d like to think.

The National Day of Prayer is an opportunity to acknowledge that even in our most divided days, we are in fact, one nation, under God. This year’s theme is unity and the theme verse is Ephesians 4:3 which challenges us in “making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

Note that the verse does not suggest that we create the unity of the Spirit, but that we are charged to keep it. God alone has the power to reconcile sinners to Himself and to one another. There can be no question that the spirit of the age is one of division and disruption. But it would be disingenuous to say that the Spirit of Christ is one of unity and peace unless by that you mean within the Body God creates of those who respond to His reconciling grace.

The challenge we face in lifting one verse of Scripture and seeking to apply it to a national day of prayer designed for people of all faiths and no faith is that suggest the verse means something other than what God means by it. The unity of the Spirit described by Paul in Ephesians 4 is the Spirit of Christ. Those who are reconciled to God in Christ are possessed of a peace which passes all understanding and enjoy a unity with other believers which transcends nationality and time, into eternity.

On this National Day of Prayer we are called to pray together for the next great move of God in America. That requires an understanding of who God is, what God wills and a unified submission to Him. Part of our prayer must then be for men, women and children to be reconciled to God in Jesus Christ that then we might unified together as a body of believers submitted to His will.

Let us pray then that God would move by the power of the Holy Spirit to bring us to the unity of the Spirit as we pray for our nation. Let us pray with humility and let us pray believing that God desires to move again in the hearts of the people of this land.

Dr. Luder Whitlock on prayer and unity in the church

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