pray for Afghanistan and the Taliban

Pray for the Taliban

18 August 2021

2.8 MINS

Jesus told us to pray for our persecutors. This week, that means praying for the Taliban.

This week, I have felt physically ill as I’ve read stories and seen the videos and photos coming out of Afghanistan. I can’t begin to imagine the terror awaiting the future of their country, and the desperation of those trying to protect themselves and their families.

Open Doors already lists Afghanistan as the #2 country for Christian persecution, and the Joshua Project reports 67 unreached people groups with a total population of nearly 40 million. To say the situation is becoming increasingly dire is a dramatic understatement.

Protection & Justice

Whatever the situation on the ground, the global church must be pouring out our prayer. Where possible, we should also practically support the victims of this crisis: those uprooted from their homes and fleeing to safety; those who have had loved ones killed or captured; those who are allowed to live, but now live in fear of the occupying force. We need to be praying for their protection, perseverance, and peace in this time, and extending our hands in support however we can.

As we look at the victims, many of us will feel a righteous anger directed towards the abusers — in this case, the Taliban. No-one would blame the victims for praying for justice and the destruction of the wicked. Certainly Scripture gives us many examples of faithful, mighty men doing just that.

Men like David, Nehemiah, Paul, and Peter pray for, or even seem to celebrate, God’s judgment of the wicked, with Paul even suggesting that we avoid revenge so we can “leave room for God’s wrath”. More generally, the Israelites prayed for the destruction of their oppressors. In Psalms and Judges their prayers for deliverance are sometimes met with the divine, violent overthrow of their oppressors.

Pray for Persecutors

Yet at the same time, Jesus calls us to “love [our] enemies and pray for those who persecute [us]”, a command echoed by Paul. David mourned for the fall of Saul, his persecutor. Naaman’s slave girl, captured by force, sought his healing. Jonah was reprimanded for insisting on the destruction of the barbaric people who would later conquer Israel, instead of celebrating their repentance.

Daniel was grieved by the judgment of the king who had conquered Jerusalem and taken him from his homeland. His response was in keeping with Jeremiah’s instructions to “seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile”. Jesus and Stephen likewise forgave their murderers.

Taliban in Kabul

Taliban fighters stand outside the Interior Ministry in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 16, 2021. [Reuters]

How might these examples apply to the situation in Afghanistan? I would never presume to tell someone how they must pray. However, we are faced with the confronting truth that every single member of the Taliban is made in the image of God, and that God desires them to come to repentance and salvation. None of this excuses their horrific, condemnable actions that are completely and totally evil, but the question remains: what will change the situation in Afghanistan?

The Gospel Will Save

Sin is the root of all mankind’s conflict with each other and with God, and the Gospel is the solution — not only to reconcile us to God but to one another. The ultimate solution to the problems facing Afghanistan is not more military, or less military. It is, and always has been, the Gospel touching the hearts of every person. This includes the Taliban fighters, who need Christ as much as any of us.

If we believe the Gospel has power to save, then we believe it can change even the hardest heart of the worst terrorist. We believe it can change the course of individuals, countries, and even the oppressors who run them. If the Taliban were to repent, they would not be the first persecutors of Christians to become advocates for the Gospel, and they certainly won’t be the last. Imagine the impact of even a dozen Taliban soldiers publicly proclaiming the glory of Christ!

Praying for our enemies is hard enough when it is a bully, a difficult co-worker, or a politician we don’t like. That’s something we should do much more often. It is even harder when that person is a terrorist murdering innocent people, but this week I’m asking you: please pray for the Taliban.

[Photo by Sohaib Ghyasi on Unsplash]

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One Comment

  1. Judy 18 August 2021 at 2:59 pm - Reply

    Jesus prayed for those who crucified him

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