6 Prayers for When There Is Conflict in Your Church
Regardless of how wonderful a church is, that church may still experience conflict. Having conflict is not the biggest problem. How you deal with it is. As humans, we may have differing opinions about how things should be done, and this difference in opinion can lead to conflict. One of the saddest things I've seen is when churches cannot resolve their conflicts. When this happens, it can divide a church and end friendships and relationships within the church.
One way to remedy conflict is through prayer, but how should you pray when there is a conflict in your church? It is important to recognize that while all conflicts are not created equal, if we come before God honestly in prayer, they can all be overcome. With that, allow me to share with you six prayers for when there is conflict in your church. These prayers center on getting the heart of the individual right. Once you accomplish that, then you establish the framework necessary to properly address church conflicts.
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1. A Prayer for Clarity
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:3-5).
Sometimes the source of conflict is obvious and sometimes it may not be. Sometimes the disagreement may have been going on for so long you may not even know what you are really fighting over anymore. For this reason, the first prayer should be for clarity. You are not just praying for clarity in the situation, but for God to make known what is in your heart.
As you can see, there is conflict among us. We want to resolve this, but before we can do that, please show us what is in our own hearts. Reveal what the source of the conflict is so we can work toward a solution. Search our hearts and allow us to see what is within each one of us. Let us not back away from what you reveal, but help us address what you reveal so we can then move forward to overcome this conflict.
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2. A Prayer for Unity
"I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought” (1 Corinthians 1:10).
Since conflict can interrupt the unity in the church, it is important to remember why you need to resolve the conflict. God desires for the church to be united, not divided. The longer conflict exists, the greater the reality that division will be the result.
We ask that you refocus our hearts in one direction, that we would focus on being one body. As we sort through these differences, remind us we are called to be one. There is no one of greater or lesser importance than the other and we need each other. Help us remember this as we seek a solution to this challenge.
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3. A Prayer for Humility
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2).
Sometimes conflict exists because of pride. There may be individuals who are not satisfied unless there is a clear winner or loser. This has no place in the body of Christ as we should be fighting towards the same objective. For that reason, it is important to understand if pride is driving the conflict. So often some people get so dug in that humility and gentleness go out the window. When that happens, it is rare for anyone to overcome any conflict.
Help me focus on doing what’s right instead of just being right. Let there be a heart of humility that seeks the good of the body and not just my agenda. Remind me this is not about me or my way, but you and your way. Remove any arrogance from my heart that will not allow me to hear what my brother or sister is saying. Let me be quick to listen and slow to speak or become angry. Help me see and hear my brother’s or sister’s heart, hurt, and even the reasons they feel the way they do. Please allow me to give them space to share their feelings and give me a heart that will not be quick to judge them.
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4. A Prayer for Charity
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters” (1 John 3:16).
Perhaps the greatest way to remedy conflict in a church is to remember the sacrifice Jesus made for us. He laid down his life for us and remembering that should stir our hearts to love our brothers and sisters in Christ. Remembering what he did to save us should be a catalyst to finding a solution to any church conflict.
Help me remember your sacrifice. Without your broken body and shed blood, there is no church to speak of. You laid down your life so we could have life. As we face this challenge, let’s not forget that as we look to find a solution.
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5. A Prayer for Harmony
“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited” (Romans 12:16).
When you seek to live in harmony, then you seek to resolve differences. This does not mean you won’t have them, it means you won’t allow them to linger to the point of division.
We are not in agreement, and it is creating a conflict in our church body. There is no peace, and we are not living in harmony. Help us find places of agreement so we can continue to operate in peace with each other. Remove any desire in me that wants to lead with division or an argumentative spirit. You said that peacemakers are blessed and will be called the children of God. Let me be a peacemaker in your body so we can represent you well on the earth.
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6. A Prayer for God’s Glory
We have been called to be the light of the world. The way we behave reflects on God and should bring him glory. Obviously, conflict does not do that. Therefore, it is necessary to remember who we are and whose we are.
We are called to represent you on the earth and live in such a way that would bring your name glory. When we are fighting with each other, we are not bringing you glory. We may think our fights are private, but the world is watching. I pray you would shift our focus away from selfishness or pride and cause us to remember your glory. Let it be that we would think through and work through this understanding that your glory is at stake. Let that be what motivates us to find a resolution.
Resolving conflict always works best when you look inward first. When we do that and allow God to deal with the issues in our own heart first, then you are ready to address any outward conflict. If your church is in a place of conflict, I pray you would begin searching your own heart first and encourage those in your congregation to do the same. It is amazing what can happen when God changes your heart. We can overcome even the most impossible-looking conflicts.
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Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose which will help you understand how God leads you into his will. His most recent book is The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. Clarence is also committed to helping 10,000 people learn how to study the Bible and has just released his first Bible study course called Bible Study Basics. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.