(Context: This was written in the spring of 2003 while I was a sophomore at Wheaton College. It was written for the Wheaton College newspaper, but they never published it)
Pray for your Enemies
With all of the talk around campus about the war with Iraq it is important to be reminded of a biblical passage or two in which there is very little discrepancy or debate as to their meaning and our response. “Pray for your Enemies.” It is a simple text; a simple task; you pray.
You needn’t look far to see who our enemies are, pacifist and war supporters would agree that if America has dubbed any individuals it’s enemy at least two would be Osama Bin Ladin and Saddam Hussein. So how does the scripture apply to these modern day enemies of ours? We pray for them. We pray for their lives, that God’s will would be done in them. We pray for their well being, their families; We pray for their salvation, that they might come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. A radical thought, but let me remind you of another radical story. Saul was a persecutor of the church, an enemy of Christ, and the Lord met him on the Damascus road. Is our God’s arm to short that He is not able to do the same thing with Bin Ladin or Hussein? So pray for them! Pray for them like you do your aunt, or cousin, or high school friend that doesn’t know the Lord.
If you need more biblical support look to I Tim. 2:1-2, the same scripture by which we pray for President Bush and the leaders of this nation, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone– for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” We use this verse often to support praying for the leaders of our nation, we’ve done it many times in chapel. Do you know how many times we’ve prayed for our enemies since 9/11? Twice; maybe three times. Yet, “those in authority” include Bin Ladin, Hussein, and any other leader. So, the scriptural command is two fold for praying for Bin Ladin and Hussein: “For our enemies” and “for those in authority.”
If we spent half as much time praying for our enemies as we do debating whether this war is just (and these debates and discussion are not bad things), maybe we would see a radical move of God unlike anything we could have ever anticipated. The discussion on war has been a discussion of “what if” (what if we don’t attack and Saddam does? what if we kill millions? what if Saddam builds nukes?). So, let me present another “what if?” What if by a miracle of God Saddam Hussein becomes a faithful believer in Jesus Christ, and turns from his military wrong doings, and calls to the world to help turn his country around, not only for their physical survival, but so that they might also know Christ as their Savior. Our rational, faithless minds give us trouble even fathoming that.
Now, on a final note I must address those readers who will disregard this message rationally or simply disregard the importance of this command in their daily life. For certainly, there must be an argument that there are some men, evil men, who are not worth praying for. The second option could be much easier; you finish the article, nod in agreement, and do nothing to implement this prayer into your daily life. If you take either of those two routes, you will not be held as ungodly or apostate, yours seems to be the path that the majority of the American Christian world takes on this issue. Besides, there are many ways others and I fall far short of the Lord’s commands as well. In other words, this article is not meant to condemn. But it is meant to convict. We live a Christian life that is comfortable, pleasing and satisfying to us. We obey the law as we feel fit and where it is not to our liking we bend it, twist it, or even break it, but always with justification for our actions. And whether you are a peacenik or a war monger, you stand in a place of extreme blessing. If you get nothing else from this article, tomorrow morning, before you start debating whether this war is just or not, pray for your enemies. “Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves, do what it says.”