The Sword of the Spirit
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
January 18-25, 2018
Called to Love, Unity,
and Mission Together
“All will know that you are my disciples
if you have love for one another”
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is an eight-day observance or “octave” of prayer. It has been this way from the beginnings of this international movement in 1908. Following are a set of eight daily scripture readings, a short commentary on the readings and a prayer. This set of materials was developed by the Sword of the Spirit for use within local communities and households during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity held around the world between January 18-25, 2018.
Included with the common readings and prayers are some additional questions to help individuals and families participate in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. We would encourage families to take some time to engage the readings and prayers for each day and talk about them together, perhaps around the dinner table or in family worship time. Please feel free to adapt or change them as helpful. In particular the ‘questions for reflection’ will benefit from adaptations or expansion to best match the ecumenical reality in each local situation.
We have also included a short Lord’s Day prayer that can be inserted in the section following the Blessing of the Wine which can be used like the other seasonal variations in the Lord’s Day prayers.
Please use these materials in any way you find most helpful in your personal and family worship times during this season of prayer.
Note: The Psalms listed here follow the numbering of the Hebrew tradition.
Friday January 19
Through love we repent for the ways we have failed to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3).
- Genesis 4:1-16 Cain’s anger towards Abel leads to hatred, bloodshed, and family division
- Psalm 51 Purge me, wash me, create in me a clean heart, O God
- James 4:1-12 What causes division and strife among you?
- John 17:6-19 Holy Father, may they be one as we are one… keep them from the evil one.
Commentary: The first sin of division recorded after the fall of Adam and Eve occurs between Cain and his brother Abel. Both brothers sought to please God by offering prayer and sacrifice to him. But Cain’s sacrifice was rejected because his heart was bitter towards his brother. God warned Cain, “Sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it” (Gen. 4:7).” Cain allowed his bitterness to go unchecked until he could no longer tolerate his brother’s presence. Cain’s hostility not only resulted in the murder of his brother, it also brought family disunity and strife for generations to come.
We are called to be peacemakers and reconcilers of brother to brother and sister to sister. We must not allow any wall of division or hostility to grow between us and our brothers and sisters in Christ. Satan sows seeds of mistrust, resentment, and strife. The Holy Spirit counters with the fruit of peace, joy, love, patience, kindness, and forbearance. We must guard our minds and hearts against every thought and temptation that would keep us from loving, serving, and living peaceably together.
If we lose patience or fail to love one another, let us be quick to forgive and be reconciled. And let us embrace the call to pray and fast earnestly for Christian unity for the whole people of God.
Questions for reflection:
- Where possible, as far as it depends on you, do you strive to live peaceably with all your brothers and sisters in Christ (Romans 12:18)?
- If a brother or sister has a complaint or grievance against you, do you seek to resolve it quickly and be reconciled? And if you hold a grudge and sin against another, do you quickly repent and ask forgiveness?
- Ask the Lord to transform and purify your mind and heart so you can grow in fervent love, compassion, and kindness towards all.
- Pray earnestly on behalf of all the Christian people that all may embrace God’s call to peace, reconciliation, and unity together.
Prayer on behalf of the whole people of God: Heavenly Father, God of steadfast love and faithfulness, we confess our sin before you.
You have called us to be the pillar and bulwark of the truth, but we have forsaken your Word and exchanged the truth for a lie. Have mercy, Lord, and forgive our sin.
You have called us to be holy even as you are holy, but we have disobeyed your commandments and defiled your temple. Have mercy, Lord, and forgive our sin.
Lord, You have called us to love one another and to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, but we have broken your Son’s body with our enmity and strife. Have mercy, Lord, and forgive our sin.
Lord, You have called us to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world, but we have imitated the nations, losing our flavor and hiding our light. Have mercy, Lord, and forgive our sin.