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Why I Pray for ISIS

"I just don't understand, Mom," my 11-year-old asked me yesterday morning. "Why would people hurt other people just because they don't believe the same way?"
      Our conversation was one held in thousands of other households across the globe, but for us, it was unique. All these years I've shielded my children from the world's chaos and destruction. I've ceased watching the news in their presence, unsubscribed to newspapers and guard their online activity like a hawk watching over her babies. But at a certain point the world intrudes and we must face these discussions head-on and with spiritual awareness.
     I used the opportunity to explain that hardened, dark hearts don't feel remorse for such actions. That, for reasons we can never comprehend, they feel this is their spiritual duty.
    "But," I stressed, "the scripture is very clear about what to do with our enemies. We must pray for them."
     The look on his face was pure shock, rimmed with slight confusion. How can we, he asked, pray for such people?
     In fact, these are the very people who need our prayers. The darkest of hearts can only be awakened by the purest of light: that of Jesus Christ. He is the only one who can turn a life around and scatter evil from the shadows. Revolutions must take place from within, and, in this case, it must begin with a heart change.
     We can reflect on Saul, the Christian killer, who once reveled in his own blood lust. Once saved by the grace of Christ, he repented. I believe, too, that this can happen within the ranks of ISIS.
     I know it's a simplistic solution. It does sound a little kumbayah, and maybe it is. Still, I am compelled to utter this prayer nearly nightly.
     Do I think there is no place for military action in this situation? I leave that to the professionals to decide. Am I saying this that magically through prayer these hardened criminals will turn away from their ingrained idealism? Whose to say. Stranger things have happened. I don't claim to know the future.
    But what I do know is that I am not on the front lines with an AK-47. My only bullets are those of prayer, my only weapon the hope that comes from the Lord.
    I don't know what tomorrow holds for us or my children. The Bible, written during a time of similar unrest, tells us not to worry about tomorrow. Yet, there are times my prayers are overrun with worry.  In those moments I stop and I pray for the hearts of men I will never understand and I hope never to meet. I pray that they will be forgiven and that they will turn from the evil that has consumed their spirits. Joy and love and understand can't thrive in such darkness, yet the Lord can overcome even these obstacles.
    So, I pray. And I pray some more. I hope you'll join me because, while it's painful and difficult to pray for our enemies, it may be the most powerful weapon we have against those who would try to wrench such hope from our hearts.


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