Pray for ISIS

Setting aside politics, anger, outrage and instead looking to God in faith, I must pray. Yet how should I pray?

As I have read the news, I have been angry at Islamic radicals and at our incompetent president and his weak foreign policy. I have been saddened by the loss of culture and concerned for the well-being of my Christian brothers and sisters, many of whom have fled their homes and sought refuge in Kurdish areas in northern Iraq. What I honestly have not done as much as I should do is pray. 

 

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” – Matthew 5:44

The news out of Iraq over the past week has been disturbing and enraging: After almost 4,500 Americans sacrificed their lives to free Iraq from Saddam Hussein, secure a democratic government for the people and prevent the country from becoming another breeding ground for terrorists, our worst fears are being realized. Radical Islamists under the banner of the Islamic Republic of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have taken over much of the country. Many of our close “Allies” in the region are supporting ISIS in Syria and in Iraq, while our president says and does nothing. 

In Mosul, Christians have been driven from their homes and churches that date back to the early church era are being destroyed or converted into mosques. The traditional sites of the tombs of Jonah and Daniel have been demolished and Christian homes have been labelled with the Arabic letter Nun for “Nazarene,” identifying them as followers of Jesus and thus subject to the dhimma, the Islamic tax imposed on Christians and Jews who live under Islamic rule. The Islamic State (IS) army has gained strength thanks to captured military equipment that the US gave to Iraqi Security Forces. So they are terrorizing Christians with military equipment paid for by US taxpayers. 

As I have read the news, I have been angry at Islamic radicals and at our incompetent president and his weak foreign policy. I have been saddened by the loss of culture and concerned for the well-being of my Christian brothers and sisters, many of whom have fled their homes and sought refuge in Kurdish areas in northern Iraq. 

What I honestly have not done as much as I should do is pray. I have prayed some, for protection for fellow Christians. But tonight, as we looked at Matthew 5:44 at church, I was convicted: Am I praying for my enemies? 

I have decided that I must pray. Setting aside politics, anger, outrage and instead looking to God in faith, I must pray. Yet how should I pray? Here are some ways I am praying . . .

For my brothers and sisters: Lord, be the rock and defender of Your people. Lord, protect Your people from harm and shelter them in the shadow of Your wings. Lord, encourage and strengthen Your people. Give them the grace to continue to confess and testify to the greatness of Christ, even in the face of harsh persecution. Father, may the testimony of Your people shine against the darkness of the violence and hatred of these Islamic State terrorists. Bring people to know You and to glorify Your name for Your protection, salvation, deliverance and grace extended to Your people in the midst of persecution and distress.

For ISIS (or the Islamic State): Lord, open the eyes and change the hearts of the members of the Islamic State. Lord, if it pleases you, change the heart of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State and self-proclaimed Caliph. Bring Him to bow his knee in submission to King Jesus, that he may find salvation and give You glory, instead of violently attacking Your people. Father, may soldiers and supporters of ISIS see the glory of Christ in the lives of Your people in Iraq and may they be persuaded to honor Your people instead of persecuting them.

For the church around the world: Father, unite Your people in love for our brothers and sisters in Iraq and elsewhere where they suffer for Your name’s sake. May we not be so self-absorbed in our comfort and complacency that we fail to care for Your people. May we not be so worldly that we turn everything into political outrage. Fill our hearts with concern for Your people and, yes, even with love for our enemies, whose hearts are trapped by the Prince of Darkness and whose minds are blinded by the Great Deceiver. Save our enemies from their sin and condemnation, to the praise of the glory of Your grace.  

Above all else, come quickly, Lord Jesus. We need You! 

Jason A. Van Bemmel is a Teaching Elder in the Presbyterian Church in America. This article appeared on his blog Ponderings of a Pilgrim Pastor and is used with permission.