Step 3: Pray

With step 3 (in our discussion of how to win the war on terror in 10 steps), we turn from discussing long term strategic plans to more immediate tactical advice I would give (in all my infinite military experience) to the Bush administration, the Pentagon, and whoever else would listen about the war on terror.  There’ll be 6 of these, then we’ll turn our attention back to the longer-term, but the last 2 suggestions will only be possible given these next 6.

Hoping that wasn’t too confusing, I’ll press on…

The first immediate need we have is for prayer.  If you believe that there is more to this world than chemicals and random chance and that there is a governing authority out there who stands beyond time and is actively involved in the affairs of men (as I do), then appeal to Him for help. 

No matter what I write in these 10 steps, there is no easy path out of where we are.  This is hard stuff, and man’s wisdom is disturbingly limited.  Mine certainly is.  I just don’t see a path to freedom and justice for all, without the wisdom and power of God governing what we do going forward.  On my own, with my own limited insight, I just don’t see how I’d navigate a situation this complex.  I don’t see how Bush could either.  Nor anyone else in this picture with a position of authority.  The teachings of the Bible are imminently relevant in teaching us how to show compassion, in defining freedom, in giving us the courage to face overwhelming odds, in showing us how to love one another.  And communicating with God directly (which is what prayer is — not a ritualistic chant that, if said right, causes some cosmic vending machine to dispense what we asked for) is our most important path to understanding how to interpret what the Bible’s telling us, or in figuring out the answers to questions that aren’t so directly addressed in Scripture.

A great example is this…  Jesus says to love even our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:43-45), which is extremely wise but extremely difficult.  And it’s certainly not made any less difficult by the fact that “our enemy” in this case (the war on terror) are brainwashed, psychotic killers sawing people’s heads off on camera.  The fact is that if I were praying for Terrorist Bob, and he walked in the room, he’d kill me and enjoy it and say he was doing it for God.  And Jesus would say that even then, pray for him, turn the other cheek, etc.

This is where we need prayer … not only to be in communion with God, which is what we were designed to do … not only to seek God’s help in dealing with this mess (as He’s said clearly that He wants from us) … but to understand the complexities of this kind of message.  While Jesus was dead serious about this message for individuals, or a church, things change a bit for a government.  If the US (or, without the ocean to serve as a buffer zone, Israel) got all pacifist (which Jesus clearly was), laid down its arms, and said, “Let’s all pray for these poor terrorists who have been brainwashed into hating us and wanting to kill us, and God will save us from their wrath” … then the Jihadists would wipe out every man, woman and child there — already on their knees for easy access to the head-lobbing machetes.  It just doesn’t translate.  So, as a nation we go to war to protect those innocent men, women and children from blood-thirsty killers.  Our soldiers kill people for the greater good — to prevent worse death.  In a fallen, sinful world, it’s the lesser of two evils — a choice thrust upon us by the general state of the sinfulness of the world.

So, we need to pray.  Before we take military action, between climbing out of the cot or the trench and strapping on the sidearm, before entering the pentagon or the oval office for a strategy session, before opening a diplomatic dialogue … We need wisdom beyond our own and vision we couldn’t possibly have naturally … we need to pray.  Before anybody does any of the other things I’m proposing here, I hope they take the time to ask God to help them do it well.  And for mercy, because I think we’re going to need a really healthy dose of that before this thing is over.

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About Jeff Block

Lover and follower of Christ. Husband and father. Writer and seminary student. On a long journey, learning to swim with the current of God's love and walk with Him in the garden in the cool of the day.
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2 Responses to Step 3: Pray

  1. Winchester says:

    How does one follow what the Bible says about prayer, yet not follow what Jesus said in the Bible about loving your enemies and turning the cheek?
    Shouldn’t “pull out” and quit this nonsense go with prayer?
    I’m just a country boy from Alabama, but have a hard time figuring alll the bible stuff out. Didn’t the same God that said “turn the other cheek” also wipe out everyone in His way in the Old Bible?
    How does all that go together. Seems like JW likes the Old Bible God better than the new.

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  2. Jeff Block says:

    RE: Shouldn’t “pull out” and quit this nonsense go with prayer?

    That’s one of the points I was trying to make (if I understand your question correctly)… Jesus instructs us that if we want to be like him that we (on a personal level) should not combat those who do us harm. He specifically told the story of a man being robbed who should — instead of fighting off the robber — give him extra. “If he takes your tunic, give him your cloak as well.” This is because Jesus knew that there is more to life than material goods — that life is eternal and spiritual, where neither the tunic nor the cloak but only the man’s soul matters.

    However, we can’t build governments on this principle. And I cited an explicit example of this with the recent Lebanon-Israel conflict. If we were to agree on a policy in which the Israelis were to give up all their weapons and pray for Hezbollah (turning the other cheek), then the terrorists would wipe them out — every man, woman and child. Governments exist to protect their citizens from exactly this kind of thing. So, sometimes war is necessary (in a broken messed up world) to protect the greater good.

    > Didn’t the same God that said “turn the other cheek” also wipe out everyone in His way in the Old Bible?

    Personally, yes, turn the other cheek. Governmentally, no, fight wars when they are just and necessary. Another thing to consider about the parts of the Bible you’re citing (in which God wiped out pagan nations before the Israelites as they migrated into “the holy land”)… God is God. As the creator and ruler of this universe, he has the right to do whatever He wants — including judge a people as wicked and condemn them to death. You and I do not have nearly that kind of authority. We strive to treat all people humanely, with respect and honor. All life is sacred. But when it comes to kiling evil people who would destroy innocence, we have an obligation to fight (and ultimately destroy) them.

    Whether or not God had the right to wipe out the Jebusites, the Amalakites and all the other ‘akites 5000 years ago… Because He’s God, yes. But nowhere in the Bible is anyone being instructed to wipie out anything today. Don’t take those historical accounts and baloon them into some kind of instruction for living. The rest of the Bible makes clear that this is not how they were intended.

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