Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A Time for Urgent Prayer

Listening to the breaking news of the terrorist attacks in Paris last Friday was very troubling. I felt like we were right back on September 11, 2001. I felt helpless watching the stories pour in as events unfolded, especially the news about the hundreds of terrified people trapped in the concert hall. This whole ordeal was made doubly sad as it compounded the news of the day before when two suicide bombers had taken more than 40 lives in a neighborhood in Beirut, Lebanon.

Here I was, half way around the world. What could I do?

That's where God's promise kicks in: "The prayer of a righteous man has great power as it is working" (James 5:16b). This is a time that desperately needs our urgent prayers just like Jesus pouring out His heart to His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane.

What should I pray? First, these attacks remind us that our time is short.

Lord, make me realize and remember how brief and precious life is. Teach me to be intentional, to make the most of every minute You grant me with the precious people You have brought into my life. I don't know when their or my time will end. How many hours do I waste alongside those who mean so much to me! No, I'm not expecting us to be separated by a terrorist attack -- the odds are greater of being killed by a meteorite strike -- but these attacks remind me how quickly my loved ones can be snatched away by traffic accidents, heart attacks, strokes, or crime. Make me ever watchful for those opportunities You give me to share my faith, my love, my heart.

Next, I'm reminded of the political leaders God has put in place to protect us from such murderous actions.

Heavenly Father, give wisdom to the leaders of our nation and every nation that deals with this threat. Give them the clarity and courage to put the welfare of their people above all things. Guide the policies they develop in relation to ISIS, to the peoples of the Middle East and, especially, concerning the refugees from Syria and Iraq and neighboring countries, which include Christian brothers and sisters who have been driven from their homes.

Closely connected is the need to pray for all public servants who protect us.

Heavenly Father, You have set governments in place to curb the outbursts of violence and evil in our world. Bless all those public servants who put themselves in harm's way to protect us. Give them diligence and vigilance in their service, and true integrity toward all the citizens they protect. Bless all agencies that gather intelligence, that they might uncover and successfully thwart these murderous attacks.

Then, there are the terrorists.

Gracious Heavenly Father, in the acts of these terrorists we have seen Satan personified. Their pitiless slaughter of innocent people gives us a glimpse into Satan's black, bitter heart, his utter callousness toward all that is good. Remind us that we do not battle against flesh and blood, but against spiritual enemies in the heavenly places. As Your Son Jesus mortally wounded Satan and his fallen angels in His suffering, death and resurrection, give us victory over them as well, as we flee to our Savior for refuge from his seething hatred. Bless all Christian leaders, missionaries, pastors, church workers, and all our Christian brothers and sisters so that we may renounce his works and his ways -- especially his subtle and attractive vices, which are so seductive to us.

But we also must pray for wisdom to distinguish between Satan and the terrorists he is using.

Holy Father, remind us that even though Satan and his angels are beyond redemption and repentance, these humans are not. Until their death, they are not beyond the reach of Your grace in Jesus Christ, who carried their sins to the cross. Bring them to conversion, repentance and salvation --that these deadly enemies may become our brothers -- just as You converted Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus and made him a strong defender of the faith.

To bring about their conversion, we need to pray for our Christian brothers and sisters living in danger in their lands.

Heavenly Father, richly bless our Christian brothers and sisters who are standing firm, and sharing their faith in the Middle East and in all parts of the world where radical Islam subverts and corrupts. Grant that their witness through sufferings, threats, and even the pain of death, may bear fruit. Let the blood of all Your martyrs water the seed of the Gospel that Your Holy Spirit would work faith in the hearts of many Muslims.

Finally, pray that God would work through us to reach those Muslims who live in our nation and in our communities.

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your great love for all people. Grant us true love for the Muslims You have brought into our nation and into our communities. Give us grace to treat them with kindness and dignity, that in us they may see Your love. Give us wisdom and compassion to share with them the freedom Christ Jesus has won for all. In the Name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

The depth of man's depravity toward another seems to have no limits at times. In the face of villainy like Friday night's heinous rampage in Paris or the suicide bombings the day before in Beirut, Lebanon, it's easy to lose sight of the cross and what Jesus' death -- and resurrection -- stand for: total victory, freedom, peace, and the forgiveness of our sins.

As Christians, what can we do to address the darkness in this world? Share your thoughts by clicking here and telling us about it.

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