Monday, December 7, 2015

How Should I Pray about ISIS?

(by Sam Nobles)
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12

I was reading a blog post earlier this week and the very title of it grabbed my attention: Should we Pray for ISIS to be Defeated or Converted?  I caught myself answering the question quickly, but then after thinking about it I changed my answer…again…again…and again.  After a few rounds of battling myself and my theology I finally decided to see exactly what Scripture had to say about this situation.

Imprecatory Prayer
The word “imprecate” means “to invoke evil upon or curse” one’s enemies.  King David is one most associated with imprecatory prayers.  Psalm 55:15, 69:28, and 109:8, use phrases like, “may their path be dark and slippery, with the angel of the LORD pursuing them” (Psalm 35:6) and “O God, break the teeth in their mouths; tear out the fangs of the young lions, O LORD!” (Psalm 58:6).  These types of prayers seem contrary to the nature of God, but Jesus quoted some of the imprecatory psalms during His earthly ministry.  In John 15:25, Jesus quotes Psalm 35:19 and 69:4, and Paul did so as well in Romans 11:9-10, which is a quote of Psalm 69:22-23.  Therefore, since Jesus and Paul quoted verses from these imprecatory psalms, it proves those psalms were inspired by God and removes all doubt that they were sinful or simply selfish prayers of revenge.  So what do we do with these imprecatory psalms, and how does that help us pray for or against ISIS?

Our Real Enemy
In my opinion, imprecatory prayers from the Psalms today should only be used as an example of how to pray against our spiritual enemies because “our battle is not against flesh and blood” (Ephesians 6:12).  Satan and his demons are our real enemies, and we should not hesitate to pray against them, asking God to “break their teeth” or “let death seize them”.  Unsaved people are merely pawns used by the devil to do his dirty work. In the New Testament, Jesus encourages believers to pray for and bless their enemies (Matthew 5:44–48).  I hardly think praying for the death of someone is what Jesus meant.  Instead, I think we are to pray for the salvation of ISIS first, and then for God’s wrath to burn against Satan and his evil forces that provoke and further this situation.  There's no greater blessing than a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and that’s what I think Jesus meant by praying for and blessing those who curse us. If ISIS is converted then they will indeed be defeated.

Scripture to Claim
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.    Matthew 5:43-44

Devotional Archive