Previously, upon hearing reports of violent terrorism, I would immediately pray for the victims’ needs and ask for comfort for their families. With the Paris attacks, I joined many as we superimposed the French flag’s colors upon our Facebook profiles. But on the afternoon of this most recent California attack, I felt a new shift in my spirit. I experienced a wave of outrage, for I was tired of senseless violence and death. I determined to pray for more than comfort: I began to pray directly against the violence.
With over two decades of pastoring experience, as well as growing up the child of a pastor, I know much about prayer. I personally have prayed thousands of prayers. I believe prayer is heard from heaven and has the ability to heal our land (2 Chronicles 7:14). Though I’ve often prayed for our nation and world, I recognized that I had never prayed against violence. This changed that day. I began to specifically pray against violence and terrorism.
I prayed that hate would be replaced with love. I prayed that those who do not value human life or view all humanity as God’s beautiful children would be silenced and unable to find an audience for their hate-filled rhetoric. Then, I looked to my Bible to find a pattern for praying against violence.
About three thousand years ago, David, the King of Israel, faced violent men. Long before planes were flown into buildings, explosives detonated, or even guns manufactured, godly men sought God’s protection and deliverance from violence.
David’s prayer, as recorded in Psalm 140, remains a solid pattern for our world’s needs today. I would like to share with you how to pray against violence according to Psalm 140.
1) Pray for protection from violence: for yourself, your family, your nation, and your world. Verses 1, 2 and 4: “Rescue me, Lord, from evildoers; Protect me from the violent. Who devise evil plans in their hearts and stir up war every day. Keep me safe, Lord, from the hands of the wicked; Protect them from the violent, Who devise ways to trip my feet.”
2) Pray that the hate-filled and murderous speech, causing people to rage against each other, will stop. Verse 3: “They make their tongues as sharp as serpent’s: the poison of vipers is on their lips.”
3) Pray that you, your family and friends do not become entangled with those who indoctrinate or lead to a culture of terrorism and violence. Verse 5: “The arrogant have hidden a snare for me; They have spread out the cords of their net and have set traps for me along my path.”
4) Acknowledge that you trust in God to shield and protect you. Verses 6-7: “I say to the Lord, “You are my God.” Hear, Lord, my cry for mercy. Sovereign Lord, my strong deliverer you shield my head in the day of battle.”
5) Pray that developing plans for terrorism and violence will be thwarted and unsuccessful. vs. 8 “Do not grand the wicked their desires, Lord; Do not let their plans succeed.”
As we enter the New Year, let us join together, while recruiting others, to pray against violence. I encourage you to unite with me, praying and believing for a 2016 filled with peace.
Pastor Steve Warman is the Senior Pastor of The Apostolic Church in Auburn Hills, Michigan. He is the author of The Second Try, and Walking on Dragons.