For as long as there has been truth, there has been division over the truth—over what is consistent with God’s revelation and what is aberrant, over what pleases him and what grieves his heart. Richard Baxter was no stranger to this reality and, aware of his own sinfulness, penned a prayer meant to plead God’s help in times of controversy.
Lord God, when controversies occasion division among your people, may I look first to the interest of the common good and to the exercise of charity.
May I not become a passionate contender for any party or censure the peaceable.
May I not overreach my understanding or try to win esteem for my orthodoxy or zeal.
May I suspect my own unripe evaluation and silence my opinions until I am clear and certain.
May I join the moderates and the peacemakers rather than the contenders and dividers.
For division leads to the ruin of the church, the hindrance of the gospel and injury to the interests of true religion.
Keep me, I pray, from being misguided; from being carried away by passion or discontent; from worldly interests; from thinking too highly of my own opinion.
May my zeal be more for faith, charity and unity than for my opinions.
(Drawn from Into His Presence)