Today marks the first day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. It’s actually eight days, as the placement of this week (between January 18 and 25 each year) stretches from the Feast of St. Peter to the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul on the Christian calendar–two significant dates for two significant figures in the early Church. The theme for this year’s week is Mark 7.37: “He even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”
For a great overview of the history and purpose of this week, see this article by the BBC. I would ask that you join with me in prayer for the unity of the broad Christian tradition, across denominational and theological lines. I plan on posting my own prayer here each day for the next week.
Lord, on this first day of the week of prayer for Christian unity, I ask that You would draw together Your fractured and splintering body. Let us see in the face of our separated brothers and sisters Your face, Lord. Let us love one another as You have loved us in Christ. Draw us together for the sake of this hurting and broken world, and move our hearts to offer ourselves to You as living sacrifices.
I pray especially on this feast day of Peter for the Catholic Church. May she, together with the rest of Your Church, be continually converted to You, and continually renewed in You. Grant her strength of Your Spirit as she continues to be at work in very difficult situations throughout Your world. I ask for goodwill on the part of the Catholic Church toward her Protestant and Orthodox brothers and sisters. May the same be true of those churches.
I pray also for Pope Benedict, that You would grant him clarity of thought and vision; and even more than this, that he would love You with all of his heart, mind, soul and strength, and that he would guide his Church on the path to the Cross, first walked by Your Son. I pray that You would grant him humility, as he continues to set out each day as a humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord.
All these things I pray through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.