Should Terrorism be a Matter of Prayer?
Terrorism is senseless. While those who commit evil acts of violence against innocent victims might accomplish some of their immediate goals, their ideology of hate and oppression ultimately collapses. Or it is commandeered by others who propagate the same.
In the face of the senseless, it is easy for believers to adopt a fatalistic mindset and forget the power of prayer. Prayer often seems powerless against people who are bent on committing atrocities, regardless of the consequences.
Does it matter whether or not we pray for terrorist victims, or for acts of violence to be stopped before they occur? Do our prayers influence God, and do they actually help others? Or are we merely making ourselves feel better by taking our sorrow to the Lord?
I believe prayer does matter. Here’s why:
God hears our prayers, and in His wisdom, He might intervene and stop an evil act. I realize this possibility raises the question of why God doesn’t always intervene. However, we know He allows evil people to exercise their free will, while sometimes changing the course of events for His eternal purposes. We cannot possibly understand God’s will completely, but I am confident He factors in our prayers as they are one of the ways we demonstrate our willingness to participate in His plan. God listens to our requests and coordinates His design with our desires.
Our prayers encourage other believers who have been impacted by acts of violence. This encouragement goes beyond the knowledge others have that we are thinking of them. If believers who are suffering also trust in the God who sometimes intervenes, then they are pleased to hear of our petitions.
Our prayers move us to act as God’s ambassadors. The big events that occur around us are a result of countless smaller events. One loving deed we express toward a neighbor, could be the seed that stops hatred before it begins. God’s people travel extensively throughout the world, and our lives are always touching one another. We cannot predict how the providential hand of God might connect the dots and forever alter the future of a maimed terrorist victim, the family of someone who has been killed by terrorism, or even the terrorist himself. God’s providence often begins in our hearts when we ask Him to show us, through the prompting of the Holy Spirit and His Word, how we should respond to hate.
Prayer invites God to examine our hearts and strengthen our convictions. Hate produces hate, and if we allow Satan to gain a foothold in our lives, we can build walls between ourselves and people who remind us of the terrorists we see on TV. Hate only reinforces the isolation those who are different feel in our culture. Love overcomes isolation and gives the light of Christ an opportunity to shine in the darkness.
There are many others subjects believers must grapple with in regards to terrorism. Justice certainly has a place in the equation as we work through those in authority to punish evil doers. This too is a matter of prayer. We should also continue to pray for those serving in our military who place themselves in harm’s way to protect us. They must decide how they are going to address an evil threat in the fraction of a second.
We live in a dangerous world, and sometimes it is hard to see how God is working. But He is working, and I believe, outside of a supernatural intervention, most of His plans are carried out by His people.
His praying people.
There is a point to prayer.
Don’t ever stop.