Pray for ISIS

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” – Luke 23:34[1]

jesus-carries-the-cross christWhom did Jesus Christ forgive from the cross: the Roman soldiers or the crowd? Whomever his audience, instead of avenging himself Jesus left justice in his Father’s hands, to show mercy or judgment as he wills (Romans 9:15-18, 12:19). He knew that vengeance belonged to the Father alone (12:19). Seven weeks later, on the Day of Pentecost, three thousand people were saved (Acts 2:1, 41). Would this have happened if Jesus hadn’t said “forgive them”? I wonder.

“Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” – Acts 7:60

Stephen refused to avenge himself as he was dying at the hands of religious leaders. Stephen left justice in the Father’s hands instead. Saul, a Pharisee, stood by “consenting to his death” (Acts 7:58, 8:1, 22:20). Would God have saved this man and transformed him into the apostle Paul if Stephen hadn’t forgiven his murderers? I wonder.

Paul-DamascusSaul “made havoc of the church,” “dragging off men and women” to prison (Acts 8:3, 26:10). In his own words, he “persecuted this Way to the death” by “punishing” believers in synagogues and “compelling them to blaspheme” (22:4, 26:11). This Pharisee “persecuted the church of God … and tried to destroy it” (1 Corinthians 15:9, Galatians 1:13). “Breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord,” Saul traveled to Damascus in order to arrest believers and bring them back to Jerusalem for trial (Acts 9:1-2, 14, 21; 22:5, 26:11-12). A blinding light and a voice from heaven were all it took to humble him (9:3-6).

A roving murderer of Christians with a consuming hatred for Christ: this portrait sounds like an Islamic terrorist. Other than parentage (Jew v. Arab) and religious upbringing (Judaism v. Islam), the only difference between Saul and ISIS is time. If a man full of zeal without knowledge can be saved, then an ISIS fighter can be too (Romans 10:2). Saul’s conversion was “the violent capture of a rebel will,” in the words of Saint Augustine.[2] If God showed grace and mercy on “a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man” two thousand years ago, then he can do it again (1 Timothy 1:13). God wants everyone “to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth,” regardless of heritage and environment (2:4).

“Judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” – James 2:13

isis prayer jesusToo many Christians today want God to pour out his wrath on ISIS. What radical Muslims do to believers is evil, and they won’t go unpunished. However, we still live in a day of grace. Today is still the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). We’re all born sinners. We’ve all fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). How can we not share his amazing grace with Muslims?

God has a plan for ISIS. I don’t know what it is. But if God chooses to humble, convict, and convert an Islamic terrorist on his personal Damascus road, then we shouldn’t be surprised. If he calls us, like Ananias, to go to this person so he can receive the Holy Spirit and be baptized, then we must obey (Acts 9:10-19). God is God. He knows what he’s doing.

Where are the Christians who will love their enemies by praying for ISIS fighters to be saved (Matthew 5:44)? Where are the believers who will pray for their persecutors by saying “Father, forgive them” and leaving justice in his hands (5:44)? God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). If we trust God, what we fear most – ISIS on American shores – may become the instrument that will heal our land (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Prayer Resources

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[1] Quoted in Paul: A Man of Grace and Grit. Profiles in Character from Charles R. Swindoll. Nashville: The W. Publishing Group, 2002, page 22.
[2] New King James Version (NKJV), unless otherwise noted

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6 thoughts on “Pray for ISIS

  1. I noticed you deleted my comments while visiting my blog. As you should note, I am extremely analytical in my studies about each and every detail of a subject matter. I take this serious. Just wanted to say that. I am in my 50’s. Obviously, we both love the study of scripture. But, keep in mind, I don’t agree with the majority of the educated preachers, and I am not satisfied with their professional counsel. I believe that we are to free the oppressed, not the oppressor. That’s all.

    • Analytical isn’t the issue. Your online behavior is abusive. Winning an argument isn’t what matters but how you treat people, believers and unbelievers. I’m not a 70s flower child. [I wasn’t alive then.] But I’m a firm believer in divine grace for all human beings (through repentance and faith). ISIS = human beings. Religion does not matter. God can save anyone out of any false religion. He has many converts from Islam and will continue to have more. This discussion is over. Good day.

      • I was never abusive on THIS blog whatsoever. I broke things down to be understood. I provided scripture to back up what I said. I even asked valid questions and even provided the answers to my own questions so that it can be understood. If God can save anyone, fine. But we are called to save the oppressed. I don’t believe that I was abusive, I believe that I was being realistic.

      • Abuse = chasing me down online (blog, social media). The hound of heaven is enough. I don’t need you too. You didn’t recognize my boundaries or personal space. All unbelievers are ‘oppressed,’ by Satan if no one else. Spiritual oppression always trumps physical. This is why believers since the resurrection of Christ have loved and prayed for their enemies. The hearts of ISIS members are blinded and we must pray that they repent and see the light. A Christian without compassion scares me. Your spirit isn’t right. No matter what you say, people will see that wrong spirit and tune you out.

  2. About Moses beginning of freeing the oppressed
    Acts 7:22-25 (KJV)
    22 And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds.
    23 And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel.
    24 And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian:
    25 For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not.

    Since you accuse me of abuse, let me retort. Desiring God is a Calvinist website. I am not a Calvinist. I’ve taken about a 7 month hiatus, but I hang out at a Spiritual Abuse blog called Spiritual Sounding Board by Julie Anne Smith. You might want to check it out sometime. Most of the abused are coming out of Calvinism. In some of the older comments beyond 7 months ago, you can do an “Edit, Find” and “chapmaned24” to see my comments. You will see that I am against spiritual abuse of any kind, and I am a rabid dog against anyone who defends doctrines that are abusive. I come across arrogant, and I don’t mind. The only way to confront a Calvinist hell bent on defending their doctrine is to go after them by their juggler. And you know, I’ve never had issues with any other denomination, or set of beliefs, except with Calvinism. The spiritual abuse blogs are full of those who came out of Calvinism.

    Don’t listen to me, listen to scripture that I provide, that counters your views.

    Now, let me leave you with the following:

    God did not spare the Pharaoh and his army, God did not spare those in the flood, God did not spare the angels who sinned against him. We are to:

    Psalm 82:3
    Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.

    Proverbs 21:3
    To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.

    Isaiah 58:6
    Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?

    Isaiah 1:17
    Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.

    I’m not telling you to not pray about it. My point was that Paul was never a terrorist. That got me boiled over when I saw that analogy. I couldn’t let that stand. Sorry.

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