Whew!! Found the post. Sending now.
So good to hear from you! Apologies up front for the length of this post. I will make future posts more concise. Promise!
I completely understand your struggle. I too find it very hard to understand how some of my Christian friends hold fast to some of the perspectives they have. But I cling to the knowledge that all of these folks are precious to God and have intrinsic value even so, and are worth dialoging with.
Couple of things…
Regarding praying for leaders…especially ones that we don’t agree with…Consider the political environment in which Paul lived when he wrote…
"First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-4
The world was dominated by the Roman Empire. Israel was an occupied country who viewed Rome as an oppressor. Your question on praying for people who are behaving completely differently from what you believe to be moral is understandable. How can I pray for people like that? For people who’s actions appear to be destructive rather than unifying?
How would you describe the types of prayers that you think He may be asking us to pray? Are you seeing these as prayers to prosper them? For God to bless them…keep them healthy? Does it feel like, if you pray for anything good for them, that it’s as if you are agreeing with the behaviors they’re exhibiting that are wrong? That somehow praying for them would be validating them in some fashion?
Throughout the Bible, over and over again, God demonstrates His ability to move people’s hearts. Nebuchadnezzar readily comes to mind. He had ultimate (or thought he did) authority in his lifetime, and yet when God moved in his life he speaks these words:
Now, I Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of Heaven, for all His words are right and all His ways are just. And those who walk in pride He is able to humble. Daniel 4:37
God is sovereign. And though there is so much darkness and injustice in the world, He has already overcome it. We just haven’t yet seen how everything wraps up. His plans for us are good, and as His children one day we WILL see the way in which He has overcome all of the injustices.
Do not be discourage, my sister. I understand it being hard to pray for specific people, but we can pray for God’s will to be accomplished, even through people who are or may not be believers. And I’m always reminded by His gentle spirit, that He loves even these, who have traveled so far away from Him that they seem unrecognizable. Shall we not pray for these so very lost lambs that they may have eyes to see and turn from their wicked ways? The lesson of Jonah just sprang to mind. That would be a good book to reach as you ponder this issue.
(As an aside, I am by no means saying all we should be doing is folding our hands and praying. I do believe we should take a stand for justice as we have the opportunity where we are. But prayer at the beginning and in the midst of everything, followed by thanksgiving as we see Him work in and through us and others to accomplish His purposes.)
I just finished the Core course through RZIM. (If you’ve never taken the Core course, I would encourage you to look into it; SO much valuable knowledge and experience gained journeying with people from all over the world in this course.) One of the foundations of that training highlighted the importance of focusing on answering the questioner, not merely the question. But how do you know how to do that if you don’t know the questioner or why he/she is asking the question?
How does that relate to the topic at hand? You’ll hear this over and over again in Connect. The importance of asking questions. Gather information. While I realize that there are many people who hold beliefs that are hard for us to fathom, it’s always a good first start to try and figure out why they believe what they believe. It’s amazing how frequently, when we find those answers, we see how they got where they are and may, in fact, be able to identify something that’s crept into their beliefs that doesn’t 100% line up with God’s word. From there, it can be easier to shed light on that discrepancy and further ask them, how does God’s word line up with what you’re believing. At that point, you’re shifting from “I personally disagree with you…you’re wrong”…to getting them to think about whether what they’re thinking may line up with God’s Word and way.
I understand the desire to distance. Sin is ugly. And the more the Lord draws us to Himself and transforms us, the less pleasant/more painful it is to stand next to. But as He draws us closer, He also secures our armor on us better. And, He, in fact, sends us back into the battle to fight against the darkness. How can we fight the darkness if we distance ourselves from where it is? How can we allow Him to use us to help guide people out of the darkness. Some are blind outright. Some have gotten their glasses filthy and obscured their vision.
We can’t change the global issues in our country, but we can be light where we are. Luke 6:20-36 would be worth taking a read through.
Hope some of this resonates. Look forwarding to continuing the conversation.
God’s grace and peace surround you!