When I saw this picture on the front page of the USA Today newspaper two days ago, my heart was sickened. It is reportedly an image of an execution of Iraqi government soldiers by ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant).
My heart breaks for the violence going on today in Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, etc.
We read about Muslim on Muslim sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shiites, Muslim violence against Christians, and yes, Christian violence against Muslims.
Today, I want to pray for terrorists and extremists. Why? Because Isa – Jesus – commanded it. And more than that, because he exemplified it.
In the hour of his greatest suffering – when experiencing unspeakable violence – Jesus prayed these incredible words to Almighty God:
“. . .forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
This short prayer (from the Injil, Luke 23:34) is my prayer today for terrorists and extremists of all kinds.
In his teaching to crowds who followed him, Jesus said these extraordinary words:
We can hate those many regard as extremists and terrorists – ISIS, Boko Haram, al-Shabab, al-Qaeda – or we can do what Jesus taught regarding our enemies:
Love – not hate
Do good – not evil
Bless – not curse
Pray for – not against
And. . .
Forgive – not retaliate.
I pray for those who have hearts filled with hatred and violence to be blessed by knowing the love Jesus has for them.
I pray that they will be blessed by being melted by that love. Irresistibly changed by that love. Brought to genuine repentance by that love.
I pray that they will be blessed by coming face to face with the surprising, disarming, and mysterious power of forgiveness – by those they have harmed, and by God Himself.
This is my prayer for terrorists and extremists today.