Praying for bin Laden

But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. (Luke 6.27-28 NIV)

This can be a perplexing scripture.  I suggest that it is puzzling only to those of an immature faith.  Jesus is all or nothing.  We take all that He says, or we look for another savior.  We cannot pick and choose among His sayings as if we were in the lunch buffet line at the local eatery.  We give Him our life, all of it, if we expect Him to give us heaven on That Day.  Jesus will not accept part of me.  But, He will bless beyond imagination all of me.  Here’s where He says that:

He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it. (Matthew 10:37-39 NKJV)

If I am a Christian, I will believe the Luke 6 text above.

I guess the most vilified person since Adolph Hitler is Osama bin Laden.  What he has done epitomizes evil.  I do not debate that.  When Jesus said for me to love and pray for my enemies, was He talking about Osama bin Laden?  I think He was.

When something bad happens to us, why is our first thought to strike back at the perpetrator?  Why do we seek vengeance when God has said:

Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. (Romans 12:19 NKJV, an allusion to Deuteronomy 32.35)

Maybe that’s one of those scriptures we want to leave on the buffet table.  But, God put it in the Bible, so I’ve got to confront it.

If our military takes out bin Laden, they take him out, and he dies.  Certainly he deserves to die.  I guess we could call it “justice” instead of “vengeance.”  I am aware of the “sword bearing” text in Romans 13.4.  I am also suspicious that many hide behind it in an effort to justify vengeance.  I am concerned for the safety of our soldiers who serve in these foreign wars.  They are honorable, brave, and sacrificial people.  I want them to live and not die.  Pray for our soldiers, that they will be safe.  Pray for our political leaders, who sent them to war, that they will bring them home today.  I wish our government had more of an “enemy at the gate” mentality instead of a “fight them over there” one.  This is important – and I am not a bad person to point it out, though some of my neo-con friends may not agree.  I am reminded of this saying of Jesus:

And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. (Matthew 10:22 NKJV)

So, back to where we started.  Should we pray for bin Laden?  I think we should.  The real question is, “How should we pray for bin Laden and other ‘enemies’”?  Here are some suggestions:

  1. Pray that your enemy will change his behavior.  His behavior is the reason he’s your enemy, isn’t it?  Then, give him incentives to change, make it easy for him – to the best of your ability.
  2. Pray that he will have a better understanding of you.  Then make yourself into a person that everybody would want for a friend.
  3. Pray that he would have a better understanding of God…and see the need for a loving relationship with Him.  Then let him see God in your life.

There’s a good starter list.  I’m sure it could be lengthened.  That’s your job.

If you don’t feel like praying for Osama today, then you might start a little closer home.  Pray for that person at work that you can’t seem to get along with.  Pray for that relative that you haven’t spoken to in 10 years.  Pray for that neighbor who offended you.

I find it hard to cultivate unchristian feelings toward someone for whom I am praying.  It might work for you.

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One Response to “Praying for bin Laden”

  1. anon Says:

    Perhaps it is appropriate to add that our prayers should not condemn our enemies, but should acknowledge our own sin as a root of our divisions?

    In any case a few traditional prayers along these lines:

    “Lord Jesus Christ, Who didst command us to love our enemies, and those who defame and injure us, and to pray for them and forgive them; Who Thyself didst pray for Thine enemies, who crucified thee: grant us, we pray, the spirit of Christian reconciliation and meekness, that we may heartily forgive every injury and be reconciled with our enemies. Grant us to overcome the malevolence and offences of people with Christian meekness and true love of our neighbor. We further beseech Thee, O Lord, to grant to our enemies true peace and forgiveness of sins; and do not allow them to leave this life without true faith and sincere conversion. And help us repay evil with goodness, and to remain safe from the temptations of the devil and from all the perils which threaten us, in the form of visible and invisible enemies. Amen.”

    or more compact:

    “Save, O Lord, and have mercy on them that hate and wrong me, and make temptation for me, and let them not perish because of me, a sinner. “

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