Monday, June 16, 2014

The Terrorist Prayer List

The morning of 9/11, a patient called to cancel their appointment. "America is under attack," they said.  We quickly set up a television and watched in horror as the Twin Towers began to crumble, our sense of security crumbling right along with it. As the death toll mounted and the news of the terrorist plot unfolded, an interesting thing happened. At the same time that there was a turn towards God, there was an intense anger towards our attackers and a desire for vengeance that was pervasive. 

Like many communities around the country, ours had a prayer service and my church was the host church. People were asked to lead prayer for government leaders, for the injured, the missing, the families of the victims, all those affected. When one of the organizers discussed the program with me, we talked about the importance of praying for our enemies. Someone would have to lead the community in praying for Ossama Ben Ladin and his band of terrorists. 

As it turned out, that someone was me. I don't know what that prayer did for anyone else, but it reminded me that we are not powerless. As disciples of Jesus, we are servants of the Most High God. We can approach Him in prayer with confidence about anything, including terrorists attacks and the terrorists that carry them out. 

Praying for the terrorists did something else. It humanized the terrorists and helped me to see them as sinners in need of mercy and grace, just like I am. As the years have passed, I've prayed for terrorists off and on when a particularly heinous situation occurred. 

Not long ago, my boss said something about praying for the terrorists, and I was surprised. "Aren't you praying for the terrorists?" he asked. "Well, yes. I pray for terrorists, but not every day."  Then, the Nigerian schoolgirls were abducted, and I began to wake up saying, "Lord, have You released your girls yet?" Praying for the terrorist abductors has been a consistent part of praying for those girls.

Today, the subject of terrorists came up again several times. Three Israeli teenaged boys were on the way home for Shabbat when they were abducted by terrorists. Nothing good is likely to come of this, and once again, I find myself praying for terrorists. 

As I've considered the terrorist prayers, I've begun to wonder what would happen if the body of Christ began to pray consistently and regularly for specific terrorists. After 9/11, there were playing cards with the names and pictures of suspected terrorists. What if we had a "worst terrorists in the world" prayer list and prayed for them on a daily basis? Do you think God would move in some way? I do. Scripture tells us He will. If the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much, and it does, then we can pray for terrorists, confident that God will intervene in some way. He might even draw them to Jesus so that they become disciples and fishers of men. 

I will never be a soldier or carry a gun and hunt down terrorists. I will never be the one at the front of the line protecting our nation from harm. I can, however, be at the back of the line, on my knees, praying for God's protection and mercy. I can be the one who, through prayer, helps to bring the lost (including the world's terrorists) to Christ.  

As a matter of fact, you can also be the one doing battle in prayer. Who's with me in this? Will you step up and pray for the redemption of the most violent, deadly terrorists in the world?

Start now by praying for the terrorists who have abducted those Israeli boys. Can you make a difference in this? Yes, indeed, so start praying and don't stop. It's a big job but someone needs to do it, and it might as well be us!