"But who prays for Satan?"

(Joshua Michael McKenna) #1

But who prays for Satan? Who in eighteen centuries, has had the common humanity to pray for the one sinner that needed it most, our one fellow and brother who most needed a friend yet had not a single one, the one sinner among us all who had the highest and clearest right to every Christian’s daily and nightly prayers, for the plain and unassailable reason that his was the first and greatest need, he being among sinners the supremest?”
– Mark Twain

A friend and discussion partner recently brought this quote to my attention, wielding it as a rebuttal to institutional religion. And while it seems there’s a meritorious critique of Pharisaic tendencies embedded in the quote, there are also insidious underlying premises which disagree with my understanding of scripture.

Have any of you, brothers and sisters, encountered this quote in your evangelistic endeavors? What are your thoughts? How would you respond to this, offered as a critique of self-righteousness among the religious.

(SeanO) #2

@Joshua_Michael_McKenna I’ve linked a thread you may find helpful on whether or not God loves the devil. Lots of interesting perspectives.

However, I think this specific question is what Lewis would term a nonsense question. For a few reasons - the chief of which being that the Bible is very clear regarding the devil’s character and leaves no hope of any transformation.

I John 3:8 - Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

  • it is clear from Scripture that the devil is irreconcilably set against God and everything He stands for
  • the devil has been set against God for a very, very long time - we are not talking about a back slidden Christian or an ‘old sinner’ - the devil has been instigating and promoting death, hatred and violence for thousands upon thousands of years
  • unlike humans, the devil and demons have a very acute awareness of the truth - they know who God is perfectly well - and yet they are still set against him - humans, in contrast, are blinded by satan so that they do not recognize the truth and by their own sin
  • Jesus came to save humanity - He is the second Adam - His sacrifice would not atone for an angelic being - He became human to save people - angelic beings are not bound under sin the way people are

James 2:19 - You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder.

“Can a mortal ask questions which God finds unanswerable? Quite easily, I should think. All nonsense questions are unanswerable. How many hours are in a mile? Is yellow square or round? Probably half the questions we ask - half our great theological and metaphysical problems - are like that.” C. S. Lewis

To Your Friend

I might share with your friend that, yes, hypocrisy is a danger in religious institutions, but it is also a danger in irreligious institutions and people. It does not require belief in God or in a religion to be hypocritical. Are we not all hypocrites at some level?

The purpose of the Gospel is not to make bad men good, but to make dead men live (as Ravi says).

(Tammara Canfield) #3

Sean did a great job of answering but I want to add one thing…Mark Twain was an agnostic at best, if not an atheist. Questions like these from such people are more of an excuse not to believe than a true question of the heart.

I believe there is no hope of change for the devil. I know the angels that followed him cannot change their minds so praying for him is giving attention to him and the devil loves that. I believe it puts our focus on him, also, and not on Jesus…a very sneaky way to consume our thoughts.

(Russell Stewart) #4

Hi, I’ve had many questions of this type in my lifetime and the common factor every time is an unwillingness to deal with one’s own rebellion against faith and trust in Jesus as THE Savior of MAN. My initial answer would be to ask the question, “What does that have to do with YOU coming to Jesus as Lord and Savior, and bringing others to that place of life and salvation?” This is an avoidance and smokescreen question to deflect from the real issue of their rebellion from the Lordship of Jesus. The Bible does not call us to “figure things out”, then believe, it commands us, first of all, to believe the truth. It’s not required to understand the mechanics of walking, it’s just required that we believe in it and then do it. We don’t need to understand all the engineering aspects of the internal combustion engine before we can drive a car. We just trust and follow the operator’s manual and obey the laws of the road. If we just do what God requires of us personally, the things we don’t understand yet won’t stop us from doing what we DO know. It’s an excuse to NOT believe. They will blame you for their unbelief if you don’t provide them with a satisfactory answer and, if you do, they will come up with another question to justify their unwillingness to believe. The Word calls this being “willingly ignorant”. “The entrance of your Word brings light.” If they refuse to allow the Word to enter, they will continue to be in darkness. Questions like this make them feel wise because it brings confusion to you. It gives them a sense of power and the illusion that they are wiser than you. Yet the Bible says, “professing themselves to be wise, they became fools”. The question reveals a choice they’ve already made in their heart to not understand and believe. Challenge them to believe what they already know rather than focusing on disbelieving what they don’t know.

(Michael Hannaford) #5

To firstly answer Mark Twain:
Satan and his angels are part of eternity and therefore beyond our prayers. If anyone ever wanted to pray for him then he would not welcome it as he desires us to pray to him and not for him. Even his angels pray to him, not for him. Satan and his angels however are prowling the earth looking to steal and destroy. Our task as believers is to stand against them in Jesus name.
For your friend and your witness to him:
We are not part of eternity - yet. Our decisions and actions here on earth matter in eternity as well as on earth. The saddest part of losing a loved one or a friend or anyone we know, is that we lose the opportunity to influence their lives and for them to influence our lives, except for the memories that we have of them. Some of these memories may be good and helpful to us, others may be a warning.
When we die we become part of eternity as well, and as believers are promised an eternal future of blessing and communion with Jesus. All that is left of us here on earth is the witnessing that we have done and the good works that God has set before us that we actually have managed to do. Unbelievers are not part of this promise - unless they change their minds before they become part of eternity.
Whatever happens don’t give up on your friend, it is not that he has made a decision against Jesus, it is simply that he hasn’t changed his mind - yet. God be with you as you witness to him. Mike

(C Rhodes) #6

No more poignantly or clearly do we reveal our limitations then when we apply our logic or reasoning as if within our conclusions lies ultimate truth. We all do this and it is clearly not a problem for the Lord. But it identifies human hubris at its height. If we do not live and reason with respect to our many limitations than we show how simplistic we are.

I am encouraged because scriptures like Psalms 103:10-14 assure me that GOD knows us all, yet loves. But to conclude that we even know and understand what it means to be loved is laughable. We have only a form of agape love. Despite novels, movies, or songs to the contrary. We are just scraping the surface.

How do we conclude that our definition of good or evil, prayer, love or hate is universally applied? That awareness belongs to GOD. We forget our own place.

First satan is not human. Not given to the same fallen nature to which mankind is condemned. And satan has no desire to be characterized as human. Quite frankly it would represent a huge step backward for him. We have nothing satan wants.

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” 1 Peter 5:8 kjv.

Even after JESUS had ended his 40 day fast, none of the temptations satan presented indicated he wanted or needed GOD. When you read the last temptation then you understand, satan considers himself a god.

“Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.” Matthew 4:8-11 kjv.

We are admonished that if a human reaches a certain heart and mindset, we have no place to pray for them. There is no forgiveness. How much more does it apply for an angelic being. One who has already operated in the heavenly places?

“Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” Matthew 12:31-32 kjv.

There is so much misery and hate in our world. If we feel compelled to pray, there are innumerable humans who need prayer. Many who will say they do not want your prayers. But we are called to pray for our enemies. Satan is GOD’s enemy. Warfare beyond any we have had to encounter. My goodness, we struggle to pray for the sibling who took the lion share of covers the night before. Why would you pray for one who does not need your prayers, while happily eliminating the human closest to you?

Prayers connect us to Agape love. GOD’s redemptive gift to mankind. I need the prayers to help me love you and myself as GOD intended. I will not be sharing this gift with any angel, fallen or otherwise.