By Barbara Latta, Crosswalk.com
In our fallen world full of billions of people, we are presented with opportunities for disagreements. Because we are each designed as individuals with certain mindsets and personalities, we will not all think the same way.
Our God is a Person of unity. His perfect will was set forth in the Garden of Eden with a perfect couple who conversed with Him daily. There was no division because there was no sin.
But the tempter came and sowed his sinful seed into the minds of Adam and Eve and wholeness was broken and blame resulted.
Sin brought knowledge of self, and self wants to preserve the flesh. Believers are born-again people whose spirits have been transformed into new creations, but we can still let the default settings of the mind control us at times.
This is why Paul admonished us in Romans 12:1-2 to always be focused on the renewal of our thinking. We can’t live in unity with our brothers and sisters, or in peace with those of the world, unless the Holy Spirit is in control.
The Bible gives us guidelines on how to handle these fractured opinions without causing violence and aggression.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groanings. (Romans 8:26 NIV)
Here are 6 ways to pray for those who disagree with us:
1. Pray for the Unsaved
Paul’s heart was with his Jewish brothers and sisters, and he prayed for their salvation. He wanted their eyes to be opened to the gospel.
An unsaved person’s opinion will be in opposition to a believer, most of the time. Unbelievers can still be nice people and may not always persecute us, but their hearts are hardened to the truth of Christ’s sacrifice.
We can pray in the same way Paul did for those who may be in bondage to religion in such a way that they cannot see the love of God, and for those who are blinded to the truth of the salvation message.
2. Pray for Those Who Persecute Us because of the Gospel
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:44-45)
The message of Christ is offensive to those whose eyes are blinded to the truth. That is why Jesus was attacked on a regular basis by the Pharisees and why the apostles were subjected to the same evil.
When we pray for those who attack us because of our witness for Christ we can know they are not attacking us personally, they are listening to the evil one who wants to silence the message that would get them saved.
We can pray for their eyes to be opened.
3. Pray for Those in Government and Authority
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1-3)
When Paul wrote the words to Timothy about praying for those in authority, the Christians were under severe persecution from Roman emperors. Praying for someone who wants to burn you at the stake or feed you to lions would be the last thing on our list if we listened to our emotions.
For centuries, governments all over the world have fallen into unholy hands. People have died under the rule of dictators and despots. Ungodly policies are still put in force that aim to silence Christian voices.
Praying for these leaders to have their eyes opened to the truth shows them that we serve a different God than they do. Reacting in violence against legislation we disagree with only drags us down into the same way of thinking as those who oppose us.
We can pray for ungodly principles to be reversed.
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4. Pray to Have the Wisdom to Answer Those Who Question Us
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. (1 Peter 3:15-16)
As we live for the Lord in word and deeds, the world can see our reactions to circumstances. They will not understand the control of the Holy Spirit who helps us when we face unpleasant and difficult situations.
When they ask us how we are able to react the way we do, we have an opportunity to share the love of God with them. We can only do this by letting the Holy Spirit fill us and control our emotions every day. Our prayer for wisdom will show us what to say (Luke 12:12).
5. Pray for Peaceful Conversation When Disagreeing with a Believer
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 division among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. (1 Corinthians 1:10).
The separation of denominations is a reflection of how Christians don’t always agree with each other. But being drawn into theological arguments does not lift up Jesus.
While we may not always agree on the interpretation of Scripture, we can agree to be united in the love of God and pray for each other.
Even the great Apostle Paul had disagreements with his partner, Barnabus, about John Mark (Acts 5:36-41). They disagreed so much they parted ways. But the Holy Spirit brought good out of their division in that the gospel was preached in different parts of the world.
Paul obviously changed this opinion about John Mark later as he urged Timothy to bring Mark to him (2 Timothy 4:11).
6. Pray for Those Who Hurt Us
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13)
We will all be hurt by other people at some point in our lives. At times, the hurt may not be intentional, but we may perceive a word or action as an attack against us. To be obedient to God’s command, we should pray for enlightenment, study the Scriptures, and forgive.
Our emotions may not agree with our words at first, but the more we submit to God’s will, the feelings will eventually match what we are praying about. When we remember that Christ has forgiven us, we can know we have no right to hold a grudge against another person.
Praying for those who hurt us can remove the bitterness of the soul. Even if a rift doesn’t get healed in a relationship, we can know we did our part in forgiving, and that the other person’s heart is left up to God.
God’s Will Is for Peace
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:18)
We don’t have to agree with everyone’s opinions, but we can choose to live peaceably by praying according to God’s will, following His precepts, and controlling our own emotions.
Peace between all people will only be accomplished when the King of kings sets up His reign on the new earth. Until then, we can do our part through the guidance of the Holy Spirit to avoid arguments and disagreements to the point of dissension.
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Barbara Latta is a true southerner and is transplanted from Arkansas to Georgia. She writes a monthly column in her local newspaper and contributes to devotional websites, online magazines, and has stories in several anthologies. She is the author of God’s Maps, Stories of Inspiration, and Direction for Motorcycle Riders. She enjoys traveling with her Harley-riding prince on his motorcycle taking in the creativity of nature. Drinking coffee on the patio while the sun comes up is her favorite time of day. Barbara shares about walking in grace and thriving in hope on her blog, Navigating Life’s Curves, at www.barbaralatta.blogspot.com. She cherishes her role in life as a wife, a mom to two grown sons, and Mimi to one granddaughter.