I recently saw a bumper sticker that expressed the feelings of many Americans. The first word was a four-letter word, in this case with asterisks representing the two middle letters, depicting a particular act. The other words on the bumper sticker were the name, Osama bin Laden. While recent events may cause some people to have that sentiment, Christians should substitute another four-letter word and a three-letter word in the place of that unrepeatable first word: Pray for.
In the wake of countless deaths due to terrorism on both sides in the Holy Land we could possibly add to Mr. bin Laden's name those of Yasser Arafat and Ariel Sharon. Perhaps we could also add the leaders of the Irish Republican Army, and of other terrorist organizations in the Philippines, Indonesia, and throughout the world.
I know the tendency of man is to take the attitude expressed on the bumper sticker. But Christians should be different from the world. We follow a higher standard.
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; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matt 5:44-45)
Our standard is God. It's a high standard to live up to, but He has always asked His people to try to do just that. Here Jesus says to pray for those that injure us, not because it is the natural thing to do, or even the right thing to do. He says to do it in order that we may be God's children. Without praying for Messrs. bin Laden, Arafat, and others we can not be God's chosen people. Not even if those others are killing God's people.
Perhaps another recent event points out the possibilities when we follow Jesus' advice. Andrea Yates was convicted for drowning her own children. When the news of the killings broke in Houston, the congregation of the church of Christ near the Yates home took an active role. They arranged to answer all phone calls to the family's home. They arranged and held the funerals for the children. And most of all, they prayed, and prayed some more. They prayed for a woman accused of killing those whom she had delivered into the world. They prayed for a husband who was accused of driving her to do such an unspeakable act. They "did" a lot, but they also prayed a lot. The husband began attending Bible studies. It wasn't long before he chose to be baptized for the remission of his sins. Some may say it was because of the activities of the church. Some may reasonably say it was a result of the Bible studies. But it was certainly a result of countless prayers offered for people that others may have seen as not somebody to pray for.
If prayer helped change the life of Rusty Yates, or of Jeffery Dahmer, what might it do for Osama bin Laden or Yasser Arafat! What might it do for me, or for you!