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The Prayer Circle – How Does Prayer Settle Conflicts?

Thanks for meeting us at the prayer circle.

When families in a church argue, when marriages break up, nothing hurts a pastor’s heart like a conflict.

With Scripture and the practiced presence of Jesus Christ in our prayers, conflict can be overcome. After all, the natural response to the presence of the glorified Christ is much needed humility.

How does prayer resolve conflict?

Jesus Christ obviously present and actively in charge is our platform for conflict resolution. Why? Because the spontaneous response to His presence is a devastating humility.

My biggest fear in ministry over the years has been that the sheep will begin to fight each other, and I will not be able to stop the fighting. There is nothing worse than to be preaching your heart out, all the while knowing that there is an undercurrent of division in the congregation that snuffs out the fire of every word you say. Satan is a divider. He hands everyone their ammunition yet declares himself neutral. He uses distraction, discouragement, and deflection. Churches and homes split because the don’t agree upon a platform to be used to resolve conflicts. Scripturally, Jesus is that platform.

In Matthew 18:15-20, Jesus gives us clear instructions in how to settle our offenses. Verse 20, which is often used out of context says, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.” Jesus promises to be the humbling presence to those who meet to be right with God and each other. In John 17:20-23, He prays for the love, the oneness, and the glory of the Godhead to be ours in relationships.

Someone’s Presence Makes a Difference

Whether it’s a hand in the cookie jar or driving too fast on the freeway, someone’s presence makes a difference. The sight of a state trooper parked just over the hill can cause a speeding motorist to slow down immediately. One time, some families were complaining to me about what was going on in their church. After a moment I asked them, “If the glorified Christ walked into our midst, what would we do?” Immediately they said, “We would fall on our faces before Him.” Great men like Isaiah, Ezekiel and Daniel crumbled in the presence of the glory of God. In the presence of God, attitudes change from “What’s wrong with them?” to “Woe is me.”

In Revelation 1:12, the beloved Apostle John turned to see who was speaking to him and when he saw Him (v. 17) he said, “I fell at His feet as dead.” This dear disciple that leaned on Jesus’ breast at the Last Supper could not stand in the presence of His majesty. The practiced presence of Jesus cleanses and humbles every proud worshiper. I might add it also comforts. Jesus then touched John with His right hand and reminded him of whom He was (v. 17-18). What a scene!

Here is a model for our attitude in prayer as we meet to settle our offenses. With all parties in agreement:

  1. Let us welcome His presence. (This is a practiced presence.)
  2. Let us ask Him to take charge.
  3. Let us ask Him to change each individual. (There is often a rub here because most of the time we blame others. But we must be 100% responsible for whatever percent we are wrong even if it is a small percentage.)
  4. Let us ask Him to bring us into harmony with the Father and with each other.

I have used this format many times and watched God melt the pride of strong men and women and renew the oneness they had forgotten they had in Christ.

My hobby is playing the piano. I play mostly hymns and simple songs I learned as a young Christian. I especially enjoy playing when the piano is in tune. To me, it’s discouraging to try to produce pretty music from an untuned piano. If a tuner comes to bring the instrument up to pitch, he must tune all 88 keys to one standard tuning fork. When he does, a musician is able to then bring forth beautiful harmonies with rich chords.

So, it is with the church. When each member is changed in the presence of Jesus and brought into harmony with the Father, a rich song breaks forth for the glory of God and for a witness to the world.

Selah: Pause right now and mediate on the potential harmony of our homes and our churches if we practiced the presence of Christ in our conflict resolution.

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died
My richest gain I count by lost
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Joe Humrichous

Joe Humrichous is the executive director of Paradigm One and Bible Prayer Fellowship. The message of the sufficiency of Christ for both the pastor and the local church was birthed during a time of brokenness in his early ministry. Now after 50 years in ministry, Joe is passionate to share this reality as it applies to corporate prayer and church leadership. He recently served as a pastor at First Baptist Church in Covington, Indiana. He and his wife Teresa have 5 children and 13 grandchildren.

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