When I was a boy, I remember coming home from school a few times full of righteous indignation (well, actually, I was mad or peeved or frustrated) about some other young man who I believed had wronged me.
I’d complain to my mother for a while about that other fellow, and after a bit, she’d say, “Have you prayed for him?”
What? Pray for him?
I don’t want to pray for him. It’s too much fun and feels good being angry at him.
But in time, I gradually learned the lesson Mom wanted me to learn. It’s impossible to harbor ill will toward someone if we sincerely pray for him or her. It can’t be done. I know. I’ve tried it.
Now on a much different scale, allow me to paraphrase Mom.
Have you prayed for the Taliban?
Truth be told, I don’t really want to pray for the Taliban. They are (insert nasty term) men. They are the enemy.
But Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt 5:43-44).
In the Old Testament, the prophet Ezekiel reminded his people, “‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways!” (Ezek. 33:11).
And in the New Testament, the Apostle Peter observed, “The Lord… is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
God hates sin, but he does not hate sinners. The Taliban are just human beings, sinners in need of grace just like us. They are men caught in an “Ism,” a false worldview that impassions them to pursue acts of a sinful nature like conflict and injustice.
The Taliban needs what any of us needed before we came to Christ, just like the Apostle Paul, who said to his protégé, Timothy:
Even though I was once a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of the Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst” (1 Tim. 1:13-15).
The Apostle Paul described himself as a blasphemer, persecutor, and violent man, the worst of sinners. How is that different from our image of the Taliban?
So, we must pray for the Taliban.
What if the next Billy Graham is presently an Afghan Taliban?
What if, like Iran, Afghanistan became the country with the fastest growing Church in the world?
What if the Taliban emerged as the next “Berean” Church that “received the message with great eagerness” (Acts 17:11)?
Pray also for:
“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10).
Dr. Rex Rogers
President, SAT-7 USA
Top photo: Fighters in Afghanistan