How God Brings Unity Through Prayer

The Power of Prayer

By Karen McNary – BSF Director of Global Cultural Engagement and Community

Political unrest. COVID. Natural disasters. Economic uncertainty. Church splits. Divisive issues are limitless. While the specifics may differ in each culture, none of this is new to God. We discover this truth while reading Israel’s history. In BSF’s study, People of the Promise: Kingdom Divided, God’s people failed to follow His commands individually and collectively. Rather than be a blessing to the nations, they found themselves in a chaotic, divided kingdom. 

The reason for our turmoil today is the same — sin. So is the solution — prayer. God states this clearly in 2 Chronicles 7:14, “… if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”  

God knew His people would fail, sin, and disobey Him. And in His goodness, He offers us the way back.  Despite present circumstances, God can and will unite His people when we humble ourselves and pray. 

How should we pray? 

Early in my Christian life I found prayer challenging. In my experience, it was done by a gifted church member who prayed extemporaneously and sounded like a beautifully written psalm. Then there was prayer before meals and before bed. For me, this was a perfunctory monologue rather than a heartfelt dialogue.   

But I’ve come to realize that prayer is talking with God about any and everything, both personally and corporately. When God’s people speak to Him in prayer, He responds. God still speaks primarily through the Bible, though sometimes He also may also use circumstances or people.  

Prayer is as unique as the individuals who are praying. Prayer takes on many forms, from liturgical to extemporaneous, and we will not always be uniform in how we pray. Why we pray differs as well. Throughout Scripture we see prayers for guidance, lament, wisdom, praise, and many others. Each prayer has its own unique posture. In 2 Chronicles 14:11, Asa prayed in desperation, in 1 Kings 18:37, Elijah prayed in expectation, and in Lamentations, the author composed prayers through poetry. Though their method of prayer was diverse, God’s people were, and are, united in their need to pray to the one true God of heaven and earth. 

What happens when we don’t pray? 

A verse from the hymn What A Friend We Have in Jesus sums it up nicely:  

“What peace we often forfeit, what needless pains we bear, all because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer.”  

In 1 Kings 12, we read about the painful consequences of neglecting to seek God in prayer. King Solomon’s son Rehoboam ascended to the throne. Faced with potential rebellion, Rehoboam consulted the elders and then his peers, but he neglected to pray. Following the advice he wanted to hear, Rehoboam pushed the nation of Israel into rebellion. The people rebelled and claimed Jeroboam as their king, dividing Israel into two kingdoms; the northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Tragically, Jeroboam also neglected to pray. This led both nations down a dark path for generations.  

Two kings. Two nations. No prayer. No peace. Could this pattern be said of Christians today? Lack of prayer has personal and corporate implications.   

Corporate prayer unites God’s people

Years later, King Jehoshaphat of Judah faced a national crisis. After years of peace, several neighboring countries prepared to attack. 2 Chronicles 20:3-4 records, Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.” 

Jehoshaphat’s first response was prayer, and together, the people united before the Lord. While I am sure they were divided in how to respond to the national crisis, prayer united hearts to God and to each other. He sought the Lord first, the nation prayed, and God won the battle. I wonder how many outcomes would differ, and how many hearts would unite if this was the normal response of Christians to crises? God blesses unity. 

Individual prayer promotes unity 

As both faithful and rebellious kings reigned in Israel and Judah, God sent prophets to speak on His behalf. These prophets were faithful men who continued to share God’s truth. They preached salvation and unity for those who would repent and turn to God. Despite their message of hope, they were despised and hunted. How did they persevere? These men prayed. Through prayer, their hearts remained tender toward God’s people.

When division threatens God’s people today, we can pray for one another. Through individual prayer for others, even those we disagree with, God softens our hearts and gives us renewed patience.  

Prayer matters because we live in a fallen world where sin affects every aspect of life. But Christians have a powerful weapon which is often underutilized. Each of us has a choice. We can continue trying to repair our divided “kingdoms” today on our own or humble ourselves and pray. May we be a people that come together to seek the Lord united through prayer. 

Karen McNary

Director of Global Cultural Engagement and Community 

Karen served as a Children’s Leader, Substitute Teaching Leader, Teaching Leader, Area Personnel and most recently as a Skills Coach for BSF prior to joining the staff in April 2021. She is originally from Louisville, Ky. and for the past 20 years has called Charlotte, N.C. home. She has been married to her husband, Keith, for 27 years. They have three sons who attended the BSF Student Program. 

 

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310 Comments

  1. Prayer is so important today. Constantly praying whether it be adoration, confession thanksgiving, or supplication.

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  2. Love this blog! Wonderful reminder about importance of prayer!

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  3. We must know the Word and the presence of God and take captive our thoughts living in unity for His glory

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  4. I have a question. Last week I signed up for BSF and have not heard back, wondering if I should show up for the meeting tomorrow evening or should I wait for someone to get back to me?

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    • JoAnn – was this issue resolved? To contact your class administrator you can go to: https://join.bsfinternational.org/ and search your group. I hope you were able to connect with someone in your group!

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  5. This is a beautiful article on my prayer. I have been in BSF for nine years, and when I first started, I didn’t pray; I memorized words that I heard others recite. I wanted to know Abba’s Father for myself, and I prayed to Father to help me to know you. Not only a hit-and-miss conversation but a sincere reverence one on one. I thought I had to say certain words and speak like the super saints with phrases I didn’t even understand. But when I pick up the Holy Bible and prayed that He send me to study where I can know him and heart to be teachable, my Pray life changed drastically. Thank you for this prayer that reminds me God is just a prayer away, and every day, He waits to hear from me, and I wait to listen to His answers.

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  6. Is there a perferred version (ie KJV / ESV / etc.,.) of the Bible that best fits the BSF studies. Thanks

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    • Ray- thank you for asking! BSF studies use the NIV translation. We know many translations are wonderful, but using the NIV might help when you answer questions

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  7. Thank you for the blog post about prayer. Praying the “attributes of God” is something I first learned through BSF and am grateful as it helps me focus on Him and helps me pray for others.

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  8. Is there any place I can LISTEN to the lesson or blog?

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    • Hi Jamie, you can listen to audio notes and lectures via the BSF App or your MyBSF.org account. The blog does not have an audio component at this time, although there are some softwares that read out webpages to you. Thank you!

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  9. I need prayer my life is just existing life not really living . need prayer , not a happy like for a while . through i was doing what my children need but wasn’t teaching them how to . trying now to get to read the bible more. send them verses to read. i hope they will just pick it up on there own. so shame . of myself , sins I committed . not paying to things so I could be a better person. I’ve been in BSF for copy years now , I would read the word but joining this bible program has been good for me. now I believe GOD has forgiven me for wrong I’ve down. thanks for praying for me.

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    • You may try this prayer which I used through some recent times were I needed to refocus. At a time for 5 minutes and go to prayer. Do this once daily or I hit my snooze in the morning and do this.
      (Breath in) Lord Jesus (Breath out) have mercy on me.
      (Breath in) Heavenly Father (Breath out) speak to me.
      (Breath in) Holy Spirit (Breath out) guide me.
      I just continue until the 5 minutes are up.

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  10. I read your blog. (first time). It was such a blessing. we pray for each other as a group in our BSF class. Reading this today reminds me of how we need to pray with others as well. Thank you.

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  11. I think of prayer not only talking to God but being in the presence of God. God’s holy place. When Jesus drew His last breath God rented the Temple veil. When I was a child I was taught Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate an apple off the tree God told them not to eat because they would become like Him, knowing good and evil. Now that I am a Christian I now know what happened. We became separated from God. When God rented the Temple veil, He made it possible for us to have a relationship with Him as Born Again Christians by faith in repentance, surrendering our life to Jesus, His Son. I learned as a young Christian God speaks through His word. When I see someone I see eternity. My heart hungers to share with people what was removed from man in the Garden of Eden and how God so loves us, He wants to give Himself back to us. There are times we don’t know what to pray. Jesus promised us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit itself intercedes for us. There is so much of the Spirit world we don’t understand. I don’t understand the groaning of the Holy Spirit praying on our behalf. By faith, I know God’s love for us left all spiritual resources in His word to bring us into His presence. Psalm 141:2 Let my prayer be counted as incense before You and the lifting of my hands as the evening sacrifice. Our prayers become a sweet aroma to God.

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  12. Thank you for this great article on prayer. Sometimes I wish that God would talk to us directly like people and prophets of old. That He would tell me the direction and what to focus on. Your article tells me that God does talk to me. My prayer is to Spiritually clear my mind to hear Him for myself and anybody else I am interceding for including enemies

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  13. So beautifully written and such a timely reminder we need to be in prayer with our Father. What a blessing to have someone with Ms. McNary’s sweet spirit and insight to remind us! Looking forward to more blogs from her.

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  14. What a great article! Thank you, Karen!

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  15. how do i get the books ?

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    • Hi Bill! You can access the BSF Store and purchase a lesson book through your mybsf.org account. Thank you!

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  16. “Through prayer, their hearts remained tender toward God’s people.” Yes! Thank you for this insight. This is how I can continue to love my neighbor – those I know and those I do not know – even though we may have vastly different values and worldviews. God, in His infinite wisdom, isn’t calling me to solve the problems of the world or gain better understanding, He is calling me to love Him and love my neighbor, and prayer is the only way my “heart can stay tender toward His people”. Thanks so much for sharing!

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  17. I love that God tenderizes our hearts toward other people when we pray. Praying for my divided family.

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    • This touches my heart. As I pray for my divided family I also lift up yours, Fran. May God draw us all near to Himself, bring reconciliation, and breathe His breath of life into our hearts. May we one day rejoice together as we join in worship, praising the powerful name of Jesus, the One who is mighty to save. And in the meantime, may we obey the Lord by blessing those who hurt us and cast all our cares upon Him so that we may know Him and have peace.

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  18. Thanks for the sharing. I believe in prayer too. Corporate prayer in early 1990s changed my life completely. I thank God for moulding me and bringing me into BSF. I have become more consistent in my prayers in the last five years and this is BSF impact.

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  19. Thanks for this regarding prayer. All to often I get busy, neglect to pray. As I go thru my daily routines I talk with the Lord. But nothing is as satisfactory as devoting time to him in prayer. I to have become guilty of being busy. Thanks you for these lovely verses. To be united and reminded of prayer is essential.

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  20. This article is meticulous and beautifully written encouragement on prayer. I am truly blessed by it and more than ever determined to pray often and consistently! To God be the glory…

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  21. Thank God and all, this is the first time I have joined a prayer team member. I believe that might be a great opportunity to come near to God’s words and love.

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  22. Praying comes natural for me. I love communicating with my Heavenly Father.

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  23. Thank you! The Lord just confirmed that I need to pray more.

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  24. My life has been challenged with physical, spirtual and emotional situations that only God could help. Personal and corporate prayer has been my lieline. God has proved to be who He says He is. My life is a miracle. I continue to have challenges that are more than I could handle on my own. Because I met this God of the bible on this journey I am able to face each day with confidence. God bless the BSF community.

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  25. Thank you so much for this great reminder on the power of prayer which I take for granted. Prayer is definitely under-utilized. Grateful to God for this great weapon He has graciously given us to come before him 24/7. What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer. Praying that I draw closer to Him through this great blessing of Prayer.

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  26. Thanks for the teaching, encouraging and reminding us to seek God in prayer first, before we get started with our lessons. May God bless BSF.

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  27. My husband has lost his job, he’s been off a few months, and interviewing with a new company. Praying for Gods favor in this job and for him to be chosen. But ultimately that Gods will be fulfilled in us as we are looking and willing to relocate.

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  28. Thank you for reminding me the importance of prayer. Sometimes I feel like I pray to much. Reading how God bring unity through prayer reminds me I can never pray to much and when I think I am praying to much stop what I am doing and humble myself in prayer and gratification.

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  29. My family is experiencing divisions, my mother is very old and unwell, sometimes I feel overwhelmed by all these, but one thing that is clear to me now is; God answers prayers and my main job is not to worry but pray for my family for God to heal and mend our relationships and family. Please pray with me.

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  30. I was transformed by in depth study of scriptures through BSF. Prayer is powerful In uniting God’s people to be faithful and persevere in this falling world.

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  31. Loved reading the devotions I received in my email in preparation for the upcoming study of A Kingdom Divided. This will be my 3rd yr in BSF and am truly enjoying the studies and fellowship.

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    • Pamela – so thankful for you!

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  32. Great article on prayer! Love it & looking forward to this year’s study! I see why it is so important to pray to God on everything that affects us in life! Blessing to you as you continue His work!

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  33. I have fallen very far from the days I truly prayed. Now they are mostly fox hole prayers. I have become distant from God and since the beginning of 2020 I have kept him at arms length. I am looking forward to seeing and hearing God again as I begin this Bible study and new beginning.

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    • There is no doubt, this will be a great year for you as you draw near to the Lord and begin spending time again with Him through the Word. Praise God for His continued faithfulness.

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  34. A great reminder of the power of prayer….individually and corporately

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  35. I thank God I joined BSF I have been going in the last 7yrs. My daughter K got me going and I really have enjoyed it every since. And enjoyed all the lessons I have learned and all the people I have met.

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