Civil discourse is sorely lacking in society. Wikipedia defines civil discourse as “engagement in discourse (conversation) intended to enhance understanding.” We are in an era where people no longer are concerned about truth or gaining understanding. Instead, we cloister around those who are “right”, meaning that they share our perspective, and we attack those who do not. We are self-absorbed and more concerned about “winning” than the well-being of our fellow man. Concern for the greater good is overshadowed by self-absorption and vanity disguised as self-preservation. We are quick to attack others who disagree and slow to defend those who appear vulnerable.
This self-centered mindset can also wreak havoc with our prayer lives. Prayer is a conversation with God which requires a shift from self-centered to Christ-centered thinking. It is our natural, human inclination to focus solely on ourselves – what we want, think, and feel. It is radically irrational to defer every situation that concerns us to the will of God, our heavenly Father, in a timing which is divinely ordered instead of personally dictated.
Yet, the more we ask God to examine our hearts and renew our minds, the easier this transformation becomes. Romans 12:2 says “Do not be conformed to this world,[a] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Through His Holy Spirit, the Lord speaks to us, blessing us with an assured sense of peace, self-control, patience, gentleness, and joy that cannot be swayed by news headlines or personal irritants. Galatians 5:22-23 says “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”
The enemy revels in chaos and confusion which breeds fear. 1 Corinthians 14:33 says “in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” The enemy tries to distract us by allowing us to experience disheartening situations intended to steal our joy, make our faith falter, or diminish our peace. However, in those dark moments, we must remind ourselves that our hope does not lie in hollow promises of this world, but the eternal promises of an everlasting God. A God who will never leave nor forsake us. A God who is sovereign and the giver of every good gift. In addition to reminding ourselves of who God is, as we pray, we must also remember that we are created in God’s image and more than conquerors.
As we navigate this world, as Christians we need not be cruel. Instead of cruel comments that kill, ask God to grant wisdom so that we can speak the truth in love that leads to life.
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.