Standing Together in Prayer for Christian Unity

The Lord’s Call to Return to the Father’s Plan of Unity for the Body of Christ

A remarkable ecumenical conference on “Charismatic Renewal in the Christian Churches” took place in Kansas City, USA in July of 1977. Some 50,000 Christians from many denominations and streams of charismatic renewal gathered to pray and seek the Lord together.

One of the most powerful moments of the conference came when a prophecy on repentance was delivered to the large crowd during one of the evening sessions. 

“Weep and Mourn for the Body of My Son Is Broken”

“Come before me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit for the body of my Son is broken. Come before me with tears and mourning for the body of my Son is broken. The light is dim, my people are scattered – the body of my Son is broken. I gave all I had in the Body and Blood of my Son. It spilled on the earth. The body of my Son is broken. Turn from the sins of your fathers and walk in the ways of my Son. Return to the plan of your father. Return to the purpose of your God. The body of my Son is broken.” 

prophecy given by Ralph Martin, Kansas City Ecumenical Conference 1977

The people responded immediately to the call to “fall on your knees before the Lord.” People knelt on the hard concrete in between the tightly spaced stadium seats, or they prostrated themselves in the aisles and on the staircases. Those in wheelchairs on the stadium floor struggled to get out of them and many came to their knees or were prostrate on the turf. Tears of repentance fell from the eyes of both men and women as every soul knew that we all were part of the sin of the broken and separated body of Christ. 

Another prophetic word followed, urging Christians to stand in unity with one another. That night many vowed to the Lord Jesus that they would work toward coming together in unity regardless of the cost.

“Stand in Unity with One Another”

“The Lord says to you, Stand in unity with one another and let nothing tear you apart. And by no means separate from one another through your jealousies and bitternesses, and your personal preferences. But hold fast to one another, for I am about to let you undergo a servere time of trial and testing. You will need to be in unity with one another. I tell you this also, I am Jesus the Victor King and I have promised you victory.”

prophecy given by Bruce Yocum at the Kansas City Ecumenical Conference 1977

[Click on the following link for a fuller report and video on “Charismatic Renewal in the Christian Churches” which took place in Kansas City, USA in July of 1977].

A Prayer for Christian Unity

composed by the Sword of the Spirit 

Member communities of the Sword of the Spirit, an ecumenical association of Christian communities worldwide, are encouraged to regularly pray and fast on a weekly basis for Christian unity.  This prayer for Christian unity focuses on the restoration of Christian truth, holiness of life, unity, and witness. In this prayer we identify with the sin and infidelity of God’s people, even as Daniel (Daniel 9:5-11,20) and Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1:4-7) identified themselves with the transgressions of Israel.

God relates to his people as a body. We stand before him in prayer not only as individuals, but also as representatives of his church. We may not have sinned personally in the ways mentioned in this prayer, but we have suffered personally from the effects of these sins, and we will all benefit greatly as God wipes them away.

Let us pray now on behalf of the whole people of God.

Lord God our Father, we come to you in supplication on behalf of all the Christian people. We lament the weakness and division among those who call on the name of Christ. We acknowledge that we have failed to “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). We grieve that our disunity has hindered the proclamation of the gospel to all the nations (Matthew 28:18; John 17:23).

We recognize that these evils have come upon us, not only through the malice of our Enemy, but because of our sin, the sin of your people.
Lord have mercy upon us, and pardon our sin

 Response: Amen. Lord, have mercy

Lord, unite your people in brotherly love and in your truth that we might together give witness to Christ in the world.

Response: Amen. Lord, have mercy

Lord, frustrate your enemies and expose their plots; call to repentance all your sons and daughters; strengthen the weak and enlighten those who are confused.

Response: Amen. Lord, have mercy

Lord, encourage and strengthen by the presence of your Spirit all who are suffering for their faithfulness to you.

Restore your people for the sake of your great name.

May your people be without spot or blemish, ready for your Son’s return!

Response: Amen. Come Lord Jesus

Pope Francis on Reconciliation & Prayer for Christian Unity

This excerpt is an address given by Pope Francis on January 25, 2017 to conclude the fiftieth annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity on the theme “Reconciliation – the love of Christ compels us” (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:14-20).

Encountering Jesus on the road to Damascus radically transformed the life of Saint Paul. Henceforth, for him, the meaning of life would no longer consist in trusting in his own ability to observe the Law strictly, but rather in cleaving with his whole being to the gracious and unmerited love of God: to Jesus Christ, crucified and risen. Paul experienced the inbreaking of a new life, life in the Spirit. By the power of the risen Lord, he came to know forgiveness, confidence and consolation. Nor could Paul keep this newness to himself. He was compelled by grace to proclaim the good news of the love and reconciliation that God offers fully in Christ to all humanity.

For the Apostle of the Gentiles, reconciliation with God, whose ambassador he became (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:20), is a gift from Christ. This is evident in the text of the Second Letter to the Corinthians which inspired the theme of this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: “Reconciliation – The Love of Christ Compels Us” (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:14-20). “The love of Christ”: this is not our love for Christ, but rather Christ’s love for us. Nor is the reconciliation to which we are compelled simply our own initiative. Before all else it is the reconciliation that God offers us in Christ. Prior to any human effort on the part of believers who strive to overcome their divisions, it is God’s free gift. As a result of this gift, each person, forgiven and loved, is called in turn to proclaim the Gospel of reconciliation in word and deed, to live and bear witness to a reconciled life.

Today, in the light of this, we can ask: How do we proclaim this Gospel of reconciliation after centuries of division? Paul himself helps us to find the way. He makes clear that reconciliation in Christ requires sacrifice. Jesus gave his life by dying for all. Similarly, ambassadors of reconciliation are called, in his name, to lay down their lives, to live no more for themselves but for Christ who died and was raised for them (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15). As Jesus teaches, it is only when we lose our lives for love of him that we truly save them (cf. Luke 9:24). This was the revolution experienced by Paul, but it is, and always has been, the Christian revolution. We live no longer for ourselves, for our own interests and “image”, but in the image of Christ, for him and following him, with his love and in his love.

For the Church, for every Christian confession, this is an invitation not to be caught up with programs, plans and advantages, not to look to the prospects and fashions of the moment, but rather to find the way by constantly looking to the Lord’s cross. For there we discover our program of life. It is an invitation to leave behind every form of isolation, to overcome all those temptations to self-absorption that prevent us from perceiving how the Holy Spirit is at work outside our familiar surroundings. Authentic reconciliation between Christians will only be achieved when we can acknowledge each other’s gifts and learn from one another, with humility and docility, without waiting for the others to learn first.

If we experience this dying to ourselves for Jesus’ sake, our old way of life will be a thing of the past and, like Saint Paul, we will pass over to a new form of life and fellowship. With Paul, we will be able to say: “the old has passed away” (2 Corinthians 5:17). To look back is helpful, and indeed necessary, to purify our memory, but to be fixated on the past, lingering over the memory of wrongs done and endured, and judging in merely human terms, can paralyze us and prevent us from living in the present. The word of God encourages us to draw strength from memory and to recall the good things the Lord has given us. But it also asks us to leave the past behind in order to follow Jesus today and to live a new life in him. Let us allow him, who makes all things new (cf. Rev 21:5), to unveil before our eyes a new future, open to the hope that does not disappoint, a future in which divisions can be overcome and believers, renewed in love, will be fully and visibly one.

This year, in our journey on the road to unity, we recall in a special way the fifth centenary of the Protestant Reformation. The fact that Catholics and Lutherans can nowadays join in commemorating an event that divided Christians, and can do so with hope, placing the emphasis on Jesus and his work of atonement, is a remarkable achievement, thanks to God and prayer, and the result of fifty years of growing mutual knowledge and ecumenical dialogue…

Dear brothers and sisters, our prayer for Christian unity is a sharing in Jesus’ own prayer to the Father, on the eve of his passion, “that they may all be one” (John 17:21). May we never tire of asking God for this gift. With patient and trusting hope that the Father will grant all Christians the gift of full visible communion, let us press forward in our journey of reconciliation and dialogue, encouraged by the heroic witness of our many brothers and sisters, past and present, who were one in suffering for the name of Jesus. May we take advantage of every occasion that Providence offers us to pray together, to proclaim together, and together to love and serve, especially those who are the most poor and neglected in our midst.

Standing Together in Prayer for Christian Unity is edited by Don Schwager, © 2022 The Sword of the Spirit. Source material for the “Charismatic Renewal in the Christian Churches” ecumenical conference held in Kansas City, USA is from New Covenant Magazine 1977.

Address by Pope Francis on Reconciliation & Prayer for Christian Unity is from the Vatican website, Copyright © 2017 Dicastero per la Comunicazione – Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

Photo credits: 

Top photo of Kairos retreat held in North America, © from Sword of the Spirit photo archives.

Middle two photos from the “Charismatic Renewal in the Christian Churches” ecumenical conference held in Kansas City, USA 1977, courtesy of the September-October 1977 issue of Charisma magazine.

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