Last night I and several other ministers from the Oviedo area met in the chapel of Reformed Theological Seminary for a time of prayer. For an hour we prayed for unity and revival among the churches, for our civic leaders local and beyond, for the cities we inhabit and care for, and for the particular issues of justice and racial tension sparked by the beginning of the trial of George Zimmerman, charged in the murder of 17-year old Trayvon Martin.
We prayed not to make any kind of social statement and we prayed not to create a public relations event. We prayed because we wanted to pray. We prayed because we have become friends who share a common concern for the issues that this trial in particular highlights. We prayed because we are encouraged to see God work among us despite our differences.
Gathered in that room were men and women who bear clear external differences. Some of us were white. Some of us were black. Most of us were men. One was a woman. Press in the right places and you will find some clear internal differences among us as well – theologically, politically, culturally.
But those differences did not matter, and I found the time, for whatever other value it might bear, to be a wonderfully encouraging time. Somehow praying with others clearly different than I who had no other motivation for meeting than to pray made me believe in prayer more than I might on other occasions. I don’t know if that is theologically defensible or not. Jesus tells us that by the love we have for one another people will know that we are his disciples. Is it possible that by the unity we seek with others, despite our differences, that we ourselves will better know Him as God?
What was critical, I think, to the value of our prayer time last night was that prayer arose out of genuine relationships. These others were people whom I’ve come to know and to love over the past three years. I know them by name. And so though a crisis situation brings us to our knees together, we gather together not as colleagues, but as friends, and more than friends, as fellow pilgrims. Perhaps such a gathering suggests greater power because it reveals to us what heaven will be like.
It is in such unity that “the LORD has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.” (Psalm 133:3)