Category Archives: Pray for Our Enemies

Pray for Barack Obama

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One of my pet peeves while attending church services is the form that prayers for government officials sometimes take. We often pray for “our President Barack, our governor Mike,” etc. If we had respectable officials who served with honor and respect for law, this excessive familiarity would be disrespectful of the offices. If, as is so often the case, we have officials who abuse their offices, excessive familiarity implies approval of their performance in office. Terms like “the President of the United States” and “the governor of our State” are appropriate.

Equally offensive is wording that attributes only the best of motives to the officials, and asks God to prosper their efforts. Knowing that President Obama’s (and most of his recent predecessors’ — of both parties) motives and many of his actions are illegal and unconstitutional, I can’t participate in such a prayer. Yet there are Biblical commands to pray for government officials:

  • I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-4
  • But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; Matthew 5:44.

Oh, but wait a minute. What does the quote from Matthew have to do with praying for government officials? It’s the basis of one of my previous posts (Pray for Osama bin Laden), but why bring it up with respect to praying for our president and others? Our officials, too, can be enemies. To the extent that they violate the Constitution or fail to enforce laws, they may be enemies of our nation. Examples of these include making “recess appointments” when Congress is not in recess, using “signing statements” to change the effect of laws passed by Congress, declaring that immigration laws will not be enforced, proposing international “agreements” to get around the constitutional requirement of Senate ratification of treaties, and many more. To the extent that they promote evil policies such as abortion or recognition of same-sex “marriages,” they may also be enemies of the Gospel.

Given that President Obama is an enemy of constitutional government, and in my opinion an enemy of the Gospel, what would be an appropriate prayer for him? Since he is both an individual soul with personal needs, and an official whose actions affect the health of our nation, we should pray for both him and the nation that he governs. Here are petitions that I could pray in church in good conscience.

We pray for the President of our country. Keep him and his family in good health and safety. May your Holy Spirit guide him to repent of his illegal acts against our Constitution, which it was his oath to “preserve, protect and defend;” and of his support for such evil practices as abortion and homosexual “marriage”. If he does so repent, grant him peace in the knowledge that forgiveness is his through your Son, Jesus Christ.

We pray for our nation, that you would bring about a revival of Christian faith among our people, and corresponding Christian behavior. Grant us leaders who will obey their oaths to “preserve, protect and defend” our fundamental law, the Constitution, and who will apply the precepts of your Commandments in making and enforcing law.

Pray for Osama bin Laden

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The investigation of the September 11 terrorist attacks has uncovered an amateur videotape in which Osama bin Laden discusses his role in the attacks. In the tape, the terrorist leader reveals his cheery attitude about killing so many Americans. He even gets a laugh out of the fact that some of the “martyrs” involved didn’t know that the plan was for them to die in the attacks. In short, bin Laden reveals to the whole world the true extent of his perversion.

Americans, of course, have been outraged to see bin Laden’s attitude. Typical is the reaction of President Bush: “For those who see this tape, they’ll realize that not only is he guilty of incredible murder, he has no conscience and no soul – that he represents the worst of civilization…”

Such reactions are, of course, only human and completely understandable; but seeing the words of the president took me aback. To claim that someone “has no soul” is pretty extreme. Indeed, it represents some strange theology for a professed Christian like Mr. Bush.

Christians believe that everybody, including Osama bin Laden, Adolph Hitler and Joseph Stalin, has a soul; sullied by sin certainly, but nevertheless an immortal soul. One can only hope that the president was speaking in an unguarded moment; that he doesn’t really believe bin Laden or anyone else is a soul-less automaton.

Moreover, Christians believe that each soul is highly prized by God. This very week we celebrate our belief that He sent His only Son to become a human child, in order to pay the price for September 11 and all other human sins. It may not sit well with our sense of justice to consider that Jesus came to save Osama bin Laden from his sins; but the fact remains that this murderer’s soul is as valuable to God as yours or mine.

In the words of Luke 19:10, “…the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” If there was ever a lost soul, it is the one that animates Osama bin Laden. In Mark 2:17, Jesus says “…They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” If there was ever a soul-sick man, in need of repentance and forgiveness, it is Osama bin Laden.

Surely we need to defend our nation from the crimes and warlike attacks of terrorists and others. That doesn’t mean that we need to be motivated by hatred, denying even the love of God for our enemies. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:44 what our attitude should be: “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;”

Those of us who are Christians should continue to pray for the safety and success of our soldiers who hunt down and bring to justice our enemies. We should give our full support to all moral and constitutional efforts to defend our nation against those enemies. But at the same time we ought to be praying that God will bring Osama bin Laden and all lost souls to repentance, and to faith that Christ’s sacrifice can save even murderers and terrorists from the eternal consequences of their actions.