Praying for ISIS

PrayingLast week there were plenty of posts about Paris and ISIS, which led to more posts about the United States and refugees. Many of these posts talked about what needed to happen, what should happen, or what wasn’t happening. Many of these posts talked about how Christians should feel or respond to terrorism, refugees, and military action. I wrote this post last week, intending it to be part of that conversation. But then I decided to wait a few days. The fervor and passion on social media was so strong and so raw, I just wanted to take a breath before posting my thoughts. Maybe the delay caused me to miss the “buzz,” and maybe this post won’t get at many “clicks” as it would have last week. Nevertheless, after taking a few days to process what happened in Paris, here are a few thoughts about how I, as an American Christian, pray for and about ISIS:

First, I pray for justice. I hope the terrorist thugs of ISIS experience earthly justice for their offenses.

  • Psalm 109 is an imprecatory psalm. If nothing else, this psalm teaches us that there are some occasions when it is right to pray that God would bring vengeance on certain people.
  • Romans 13 is an important passage that reminds us God has instituted human government. He has also given government the power of the sword for the good of humanity.
  • Revelation 6 includes the prayer of fully sanctified and eternally glorified saints. These saints in heaven pray that God would avenge their blood on those who dwell on the earth.

Second, I pray for mercy. I hope the terrorist thugs of ISIS experience grace and truth in Jesus.

  • Genesis 12 contains the initial covenant promises God made to Abram, soon to be Abraham. This promise included blessing for every family on the face of the earth.
  • Psalm 67 is a remarkable psalm that reminds us why God blesses his people. It is not just for our comfort. Rather, it is so that all the nations and peoples would praise God.
  • Acts 9 is the story of Saul the murderer meeting Jesus on the Damascus road. Saul became Paul, and the one time murderer became the greatest missionary ever.

Third, I pray with faith. I know that God is sovereign, and I believe his plan is better than my plan.

  • Genesis 18 tells the story of God talking with Abraham about the destruction he planned to bring to Sodom. In that talk, Abraham affirmed that God was the judge and would do what is right.
  • 2 Chronicles 20 includes a prayer of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah. Jehoshaphat was in a bind, and he rightly turned to God in prayer and admitted that he didn’t know what to do, but he was looking to God.
  • Romans 8 contains the remarkable promise that the Holy Spirit will help us in our weakness as we pray. Additionally, the Holy Spirit will intercede for us when we don’t know what to pray ourselves.

Originally published November 17, 2015 on