Paul Prays for the Elephant in the Room

I recently provided a host of links about the Elephant Room 2 (ER2) in A Special Elephant Room 2 Edition of Five to Live By.  

James MacDonald launched the Elephant Room to provide a place for Evangelicals to talk to one another about controversial issues rather than talk about one another behind each other’s back. Thus it is ironic and sad that the invitation of T. D. Jakes and his subsequent participation in ER2 resulted in the larger Evangelical world talking about one another

In this post, I’m not “taking a side.” Rather, I’m pondering how we might apply the words of the Apostle Paul in Philippians to the aftermath of ER2. 

With that goal in mind, I offer the following “paraphrased applied prayers.” As I offer them, I wonder how our discourse might be different if we applied these principles of Christian relating to our ER2 interactions. 

A Pauline Prayer for Truth as the Foundation for Unity: Philippians 1:9-11

“Father, as I reflect on the Evangelical world’s response to ER2, this is my prayer: that our love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight. This is not a ‘truth only’ issue; nor is it a ‘love only’ issue. It is a ‘living the truth in love’ issue. It is both/and: a ‘clarity and charity’ issue. 

Regardless of ‘what side we’re on,’ may we all pray for Your wisdom to be able to discern what is best—to your glory and praise. Regardless of ‘what side we’re on,’ may our actions and interactions be pure and blameless until the day of Christ—to your glory and praise. Regardless of ‘what side we’re on,’ may we all be filled with the fruit righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to your glory and praise.” 

A Pauline Prayer for Humility as the Foundation for Unity: Philippians 2:1-11

“Father, I wonder what might occur relationally if, regardless of “what side we’re on,” we did nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit? What if, instead of trying to ‘win the argument,’ in humility, we each considered others better than ourselves? What if, instead of trying to ‘come out on top in the competition,’ in humility, we each looked not only to our own party interests, but also to the interests of others? 

For each of us, may the encouragement we have from being united with Christ, may the comfort we have from Christ’s love, may the fellowship we have with the Spirit, may the tenderness and compassion we receive from You, produce in us the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus. Since we are nothing, may we make ourselves nothing. Since we are servants, may we take on the very nature of a servant. May we humble ourselves even as Your Son humbled Himself on the cross. May our every spoken and written word about ER2 be prompted by the desire that the name of Christ be exalted so that every knee may bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to Your glory, Father.” 

A Pauline Prayer for Christ’s Supremacy as the Foundation for Unity: Philippians 3:7-11

“Father, may ‘each side’ consider whatever was to our profit, loss for the sake of Christ. May ‘each side’ consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord. May we consider rubbish any flesh-oriented motivation for our ‘defense of truth’ (orthodoxy) and our ‘defense of love’ (orthopraxy). 

May we, instead, be motivated by the desire to be found in Christ not having our own righteousness, but that which is through faith in Christ. May we, instead, be Gospel-centered and Christ-centered: motivated by the desire to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering, becoming like Him in His death.” 

A Pauline Prayer for Purity as the Foundation for Unity: Philippians 4:1-9

“Father, therefore, on the basis of Your Words to us through Your servant, Paul, may we stand firm as brothers and sisters and dear friends in the Lord. May we conduct ourselves in all interactions about ER2 in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ. 

I pray and plead that ‘both sides’ will agree with each other in the Lord. May you send loyal spiritual friends to encourage and exhort the brothers and sisters to stand firm in one spirit, contending together as one for the faith of the Gospel. May our gentleness be evident to all. 

May we take all our concerns to you through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, presenting our requests to You. And may the peace of God, which transcends all understanding guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. 

May we pass every word we speak and write and think through the grid of: whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. May we put into practice—may we walk the talk—living truth in love. May we live and breathe with the awareness that You, the God of peace, will be with us. 

In Jesus Name, Amen.” 

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Whether with ER2 or any other “issue” in your life and ministry, how could prayers like these impact your actions and interactions?

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