As a college senior and new Christian I had a hard time understanding things like prayer. It was so new and I was just figuring everything out. Questions like, “If I pray in my head, can God hear me?” (no kidding) and “If I pray for my enemies, is that the ultimate way I can stick it to them?” (again, no kidding).
If I ever had time left over in my new prayer life, I always prayed for Metallica. I know that seems weird. The truth is, I struggled with giving up my old music collection and wanted Metallica to get saved and love Jesus so I can listen to good music again. I also prayed for Soundgarden, Beastie Boys, and about 20 other bands. It was pretty selfish.
I didn’t really care about their salvation and whether or not they knew my King – I just couldn’t take any more acoustic guitar. When I look back on it all now, it’s pretty embarrassing and seems ultra-selfish.
Here in the last few weeks I’ve used the Osteens (Joel and Victoria) off and on as examples of how not to see suffering and happiness and maybe a couple of other things. They aren’t the only players on that side of the chess board but are “low hanging fruit” because they are always in the news. I can’t make it through a month without seeing a new statement made or interview where I get annoyed.
With a church of 45,000 and millions of people reading Joel’s books, I just want him to shut up and stop leading people away from the Gospel. I even pray for it. I literally ask God to shut them down and lay their teaching low. I’m not sure this is bad. When I think about it however, I’m praying with a similar attitude I had when praying for all my old metal/rap heros. I’m not truly thinking of their souls. I’m only thinking about avoiding or destroying what annoys or angers me.
Don’t get me wrong, I do want them to be silent and stop leading people away from Jesus, but God has been charging me also to grieve and pray for Joel and his bride. God has been leading me to see that when I name them publicly and rip their teaching (which is heresy and needs to be ripped) I also need to pray that they see sin clearly, see Jesus clearly, see the Gospel clearly, and truly fall in love with King Jesus.
The Osteens lead millions – It’s really pretty amazing. If they were to have a true regenerating revival in their lives it could possible have a greater effect on our country than most anything else in this century. I ought to be praying for that and laboring over that. If I loved people and loved the glory of my King being shown, I would pray to this end.
This seems to be where Jesus was leading us…
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48 ESV)
Oh yeah, I’m going to still pray for Metallica and Run DMC, but maybe for their hearts to be changed rather than my iTunes library.
Question: How are you praying for those you call “enemies” or “sinners”?