There are two reasons.
1. I know God has a history of moving gloriously on behalf of His people.
Don’t you love listening to how over and over God came to the rescue of and fought for His people?
- When the Israelites were enslaved under Pharaoh in Egypt, and God sent the plagues (Exodus),
- How God defeated Moab and Ammon as Jehoshaphat’s singers sang (2 Chronicles 20),
- God caused the Midianites to destroy themselves while Gideon and his 300 unarmed men watched (Judges 6),
- God turned Haman’s evil plan back on himself and the people who wanted to kill the Jews in Esther,
- God opened the prison doors and freed Peter from prison (Acts 12),
- 1 Chronicles 5:20, 2 Chronicles 13:14-15, 2 Chronicles 14:11-12, and many more…
But God waited for them to ask Him. Every time, a similar story. …”earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church. (Acts 12:5)”… Though God saw what was happening, He didn’t swoop in with a rescue until after His people cried out to Him in prayer.
I read Paul, “I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, that I may be delivered from the unbelievers.”(Romans 15:30,31), “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18)
But are you like me? I see the news, and my heart aches. If my husband or dad were brutally murdered by ISIS because of their Christian faith, my children left fatherless, my daughter and I raped, or my children killed because of my faith, oh, I would long for the power of prayers from my Christian brothers and sisters in the U.S.
So I pray. But then after a while I don’t so much. How many ways can I say it? How many times? …And I’m busy again with my life. What my family will have for dinner, what to do with our time, and my own little world. God, help me pray for your hurting ones too.
I asked, and He did! I saw He gave the general public a psalm to pray when the wicked victimize His defenseless, faithful people. The ultimate request is “so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more!” Psalm 10.
So I’m reading it to Him daily. Prayerfully. When I drop my kids off at school, I play it aloud in my car from my phone’s Bible app while I drive away with the baby in the back. While they’re out of school for the summer, I read it right before I turn out the light to sleep. Oh, would you please prayerfully read it to Him too? We could raise a chorus together asking,
- “let them be caught in their schemes” (v. 2)
- “Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand; forget not the afflicted.” (v. 12)
- “Take it into your hands; to you the helpless commits himself; you have been the helper of the fatherless. Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer.” (v. 14,15)
- “Hear the desire of the afflicted; strengthen their heart; incline your ear” (v. 17)
- “Do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.” (v.18)
We may benefit from our prayers too as threats loom larger here.
Of course, only God knows best how to use all for His good plan (Hebrews 11:32-38, Acts 4:27,28), but I’m praying His words now and watching with eager expectation. Nothing is as mighty and good as the true, living God! (Who loves His people’s prayers)
2. I see ISIS, and I think of Saul. I remember him holding killers’ coats, approving while they stoned spirit-filled Stephen (Acts 7), ravaging the church and dragging Christians from their homes to prison (Acts 8:3), persecuting them to death and traveling to find them (Acts 22:4-5, Acts 26:10-11).
But Jesus met him. And he became Paul. And then he knew firsthand that “God our Savior, … desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:3,4) Because “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” (Galatians 1:23) “Though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief.” (1 Timothy 1:13)
And I think of Stephen’s and Jesus’ dying prayers for their persecutors, for their forgiveness because they just didn’t know. (Acts 7:60, Luke 23:34)
So I’m faced with my God’s love for them that looks a lot like how He loved me, when we were enemies. (Romans 5:10) Their hate reminds me they need God’s true life and joy.
Now when I see men of ISIS, God is helping me see potential redemption and transformation like Paul’s. Imagine! It’s doing two things in me I am so thankful for. First, I feel indignation at the evil they do, but there is no room for bitter anger against them to give our true enemy a foothold in my heart. (Ephesians 4:26,27) And second, I want to obey His command to love my enemies and pray for those who persecute us. (Matthew 5:44). God, thank you for showing what you do through your work in Paul. I pray, Lord, please do it again in these.
If you enjoyed this post, I would very much appreciate your letting others know about it too by sharing it on Twitter or Facebook. And please post a comment below to let me know if you will pray too. It would be an encouragement to be fighting on our knees together. Thank you!