Prayer inspired by those who are different to us

I watched a recent interview by Desiring God and there was something which struck me towards the end. In the interview the two men talk about the lives and teaching of the Puritans. They explain why the Puritans have something to offer the Church of today.

And right at the end, the host asked the guest to pray. During the guest’s closing prayer he said some words which began a cascade of thoughts in my mind.

“Lord, we know that the Puritan’s were not perfect, but there is still much to learn from them” (or something to that end!)

And then the thought came to me, what if rather than talking about a historical group of Christians, these two people were talking about a contemporary group of Christians!

What if instead of examining what we could learn from a historical group of Christians, they were talking about what we could learn from a different denomination or tradition. From those who hold a different theological, cultural or even political perspective.

One of my areas deficient in knowledge is about the real differences between denominations. I don’t really, truly know what makes an anglican an anglican, a methodist a methodist or a pentecostal a pentecostal. In the same way, I don’t know what would distinguish them from each other.

I have limited experiences of their Churches and have vague descriptions about their beliefs. So the following may be wildly off kilter, probably prone to unhealthy stereotyping! But the principle behind it still stands.

“Lord, from what I have seen of the pentecostals, may I learn to worship and preach with more passion. May I be less precious about my time and desire to finish the service on time and become more and more willing to dwell with your people for extended sessions during the week…

“Lord, from what I have heard of methodists, may I cultivate a desire to live a holy lifestyle, set apart for your purposes. May I emphasise purity and a love for those in need. Help me to be more generous in my heart and practical with my hands towards those whom You want me to help…

“Lord, from what I have experienced from the Anglican Church, may I not take for granted the traditions and rhythms that have been established by older and wiser people. My preference is often to “go my own way”, but through the Anglican Church I am reminded that I am part of a great cloud of historical witnesses…”

As God’s Church, we are part of diverse body and it would be foolish to ‘write-off’ one area or another because they are our “contemporary opposites”! May we seek to grow in love, grow in respect and pray that we would share in the blessings and positive aspects of each other’s faith.

Church

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