Christians who take seriously our Lord's teaching should be making an all out effort for unity of Christ's body, the Church, fragmented by many and often unnecessary divisions. We should constantly meditate on those words in the High Priestly Prayer, the prayer that the Son of God offered to His Father just prior to His arrest in the garden of Gethesemane: "That they all may be one; as thou Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe thou you has sent me" (John 17.21) We should reflect too that this prayer was also offered shortly after the institution of the Eucharist. This should teach us that in this sacrament we are all meant to participate in the sacrifice and celebration of the Lord's death until He comes again. The breaking of the Bread (the fraction) is the outward sign of sharing the life of Christ; "though we are many, we are one body, because we all share in the one bread." 
Many of us pray especially on Thursday for Church Unity, as this is traditionally the day on which our Saviour offered His prayer of unity. Yet it should be a prayer constantly on our lips that the Holy Spirit will bring us all truly under the one Shepherd, especially all those who believe in the Nicene Creed, the episcopal ministry and in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. How the angels must weep, let alone our Blessed Lord when they witness our separation and our loyalty to some denomination before that to Christ and His desire that we all may be one. I have always firmly believed that if every Christian prayed wholeheartedly each day for unity it will be achieved, but while we are ever luke-warm about this prayer it will never happen.
Furthermore how can the Church witnessed significantly to the world when Christians are divided? How can we evangelise effectively and help bring the attributes of the kingdom such as truth, love and justice into our communities when we do not practise charity amongst ourselves. As Teresa of Avila reminded us Christ has only us as His instrument in this world, and we should all realise how unchristian most of the world is. The world desperately needs Christ's values. And it is only we Christians by allowing the Spirit to pray through us that will change this. If we can pray as a united force it will be so much more powerful and effective.

When we pray for Church Unity there are three aspects to consider: 1. penitence, 2. thanksgiving , and 3. petition

1. Penitence
Let us ask God's forgiveness for the sins by which we have hindered the recovery of unity and caused the name of Christ to be blasphemed.
Lord have mercy

For the sins of thought; for ignorance of the faith by which our fellow Christians live; for intellectual pride and isolation; and for the rejection of truth as taught by Christ.
Christ have mercy

For the sins of temper, for apathy and complacency, for prejudice and party spirit; for hasty judgment and embittered controversy.
Lord have mercy
Pardon, O Lord, the sins of our past ignorance and wilfulness; uplift our hearts in love and energy and devotion, that, being made clean from guilt and shame, we may go forward to serve you and your Church in newness of life; through Jesus Christ our Lord who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God world without end.  Amen.

Forgive us dear Lord for the many times we have ignored your plea that all should be one in You. Let us recognise that all the baptised are grafted into Your body and are our brothers and sisters in Christ. Help us to heal that wound of division in your Church, by praying for and living in anticipation of the reconciliation of all God's creation. Amen.

2. Thanksgiving
V. Christ is our peace, who has made us one:
R. He has broken down the barriers which divide us.

For the unity of the Trinity. 
We thank you Lord.

For the work of the Holy Spirit in making us realise the importance of ecumenism.
We thank you Lord.

For all the efforts made at official and unofficial level for Church Unity.
We thank you Lord.

For all by their daily lives who witness to Christ's words that we all may be one.
We thank you Lord.

3. Petition

For the peace that comes from God alone, for the unity of all peoples, and for the salvation of ours souls. 
Let us pray to the Lord.

That the churches may discover again their visible unity in the one baptism which incorporates them into Christ, and His Church.
Let us pray in the love of Christ.

That the churches may attain communion in the Eucharist around one table.
Let us pray in the strength of Christ.

That the churches may recognise each other's ministries in the service of their one Lord. Let us pray in the peace of Christ.

That all Christians may embrace Christ's command to love one another. 
Let us pray for the love of Christ. 

That we may end the sin of our division which makes a mockery of the Cross of Jesus before the world.
 Lord hear us. 

That the Spirit of the Lord may remove from between us the walls of separation which do not reach to heaven.
 Lord hear us. 

That we may reach out to meet one another and rejoice to find that we are brothers and sisters in Christ.
Lord hear us. 

That we may all be one, worshipping the Father as his beloved sons and daughters, in spirit and in truth.
Lord hear us. 

That we may commit ourselves to the non-violent way of Jesus and transform society through offering forgiveness and receiving peace.
 Lord hear us. 

Father, unite all Christians in Jesus your Son, our Lord and Saviour. May your will be done among us and your kingdom come soon, through him who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen.

Blessed Lord Jesus Christ, who said to your apostles, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you;" do not consider our sins, but the faith of your Church, and give her that peace and unity which is according to your will, who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Ghost, one God, now and ever. Amen.

Gracious Father, we pray for your holy Catholic Church. Fill it with all truth, in all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in anything it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of him who died and rose again, and ever lives to make intercession for us, Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord. Amen.

O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Saviour, the Prince of Peace; Give us grace seriously to lay to heart the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions. Take away all hatred and prejudice, and whatsoever else may hinder us from godly union and concord: that as there is but one Body and one Spirit, and one hope of our calling, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of us all, so we may be all of one heart and of one soul, united in one holy bond of truth and peace, of faith and charity, and may with one mind and one mouth glorify you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Return to Index
Marianne Dorman
Lord Jesus,
who prayed that we might all be one,
we pray to You for the unity of Christians,
according to Your will, according to Your means.
May Your Spirit enable us to experience the suffering caused by division, to see our sin,
and to hope beyond all hope.