After the killing of Iran’s General Qasem Soleimani and retaliatory missile strikes on U.S. bases, there are millions of prayers being prayed around the world.
There are many Americans praying for Americans. For our leaders, military, and national security.
There are Iranians praying for Iranians.
There are Christians praying for Christians.
There are Muslims praying for Muslims.
In all the praying, here is the most radical prayer: Christians praying for Iranian Shia Muslims.
The Christian is under orders to pray for Iran and all other “enemies.” This is a test of our obedience to Jesus’ command, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:45).
Muslims are not praying for the good of their enemies, but for their destruction. Retribution is built into the Muslim faith. How is a Christian prayer different? What do we pray for?
Consider this. The escalation with Iran occurred as the Christian calendar flipped to the season of Epiphany. In Epiphany we remember the Magi who came from the East, maybe from Persia (modern Iran). The whole season is about the revelation of God’s salvation to pagan strangers, Gentiles, outsiders. God’s worldwide plan is for every nation of people to worship the world’s rightful King, who was born in a manger, crucified on a cross, and is risen from the dead.
Iran is one of the most rigid and powerful Muslim countries in the world. It is a top ten country for Christian persecution. In a country of 80 million, there may be a few hundred thousand Christians. It is a crime to convert from Islam to Christianity. Most keep their Christian faith a secret.
In a time when war is a possibility, could we do what no one else is doing? We pray for our “enemies." For mothers and fathers, doctors and garbage collectors, children and older adults living under burden in Iran.
As I look as these “asks,” it strikes me that they are impossibilities. But we’ve seen God do the impossible before. Surprise us, Lord. It is easy to pray for an enemy's destruction. It takes bravery to pray for their salvation. So we pray an unusual prayer . . . for Iran.