Sometimes Jesus keeps me awake nights. Yesterday morning at General Synod* a person leading prayer prayed for our troops in harm's way, and then added "and we pray for our enemies." Boom. Right between the eyes with a 2x4, which is the way the Lord sometimes must get my attention. Jesus did tell us Christians to pray for our enemies. So, I don't have a choice. If I want to be faithful, I must pray for Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, and the whole miserable rabble of terrorists. I don't remember a word of the rest of the prayer that morning, I was trying to recover from the bomb that had just gone off in my head. (cont.)

Last night I lay in bed, trying to go to sleep, and then the thought ambushed me again--I need to pray for my enemies. So I lay awake staring at the ceiling and wondering how in the world to pray for evil murderers. My first impulse was to pray for fire and brimstone to deluge them, subjecting them to prolonged agony then death. But, no, I decided that probably is not what Jesus meant. On the other hand, I was sure that I could not pray for their success. God's notion of justice would preclude me from asking God to grant injustice success. And, I have better theology than simply to pray for their "souls." I knew I somehow must pray for their whole person. (Your Great-Aunt Martha may be pleased you pray for her soul, but she also really would like prayer about her arthritis.) It did indeed seem appropriate to pray for the conversion of all terrorists to Christianity, to faith in Jesus Christ as Messiah, Savior, and Lord. But, I knew I was not done. And, I knew that I did not know what else to say. So I prayed that God would bless them. The how I left up to God.

I felt comfortable doing this because I know that prayer is not magic manipulation of god-the-heavenly-ATM; it is request to the Holy One who has plans and purposes beyond my comprehension. God is not amoral; neither is the blessing of God. Buechner has a passage about Abraham (or maybe Jacob) experiencing the Blessing of God Almighty in his life as sometimes feeling like being atop a runaway camel, bouncing and swaying and hanging on for dear life and terrified because his life was out of his control.

Are you a Christian? How do you pray for your enemies?

*The gathering of representatives from the classes (you Baptists think associations) of the Reformed Church in America for deliberation and decision. The RCA website is