It’s comforting to know you remember with us. Not just that day, but all the terrible broken moments in our history. You’ve witnessed and experienced with your children many 9-11 moments. Bloody battles. Invasions on foreign land. Heart wrenching deaths of innocent victims. Plots of an enemy.
Oh how you must have cried out for us. For the lost lives. For the hurting mamas. For the children left without a daddy. For the husband who went home to no wife. You must have ached for the eyes that witnessed it all. For the men and women who ran into the rubble of toppled buildings, of crumbled dreams. For the people who put out flames of fire, and of anger. Surely you hurt for the nation, how her people collectively grieved, and for the way she struggles in putting trust in false hopes.
And did you cry out even for those who violated us? For they, too, were lost to you. In their sin, they would not know you. Even this must cause you to grieve.
You tell us to pray for our enemies. For the people who hurt us and take things from us. If you are God and you still cause your sun to rise on the evil and you still send rain on the unrighteous, surely your people can at least pray for those who persecute them. You knew this would be hard for a people who, themselves, are sinful and broken. For what our flesh wants to do is attack back, put up defenses, take revenge, and be stronger and more prepared to prevent future pain. This is what we’ve been doing since childhood. It’s what we do in our adult relationships. It’s what we did as a nation.
Can you blame us? I think no, because we’re human. I think yes, because you’ve called us to be perfect, as our heavenly Father is perfect. How is that even possible? I ask with a genuine heart, and my only guess is through Jesus.
Jesus is the only way your sinful people are made perfect.
So that’s how I’m going to pray – through Jesus. Because through Jesus, I see things different. Not according to my pain or my flesh. Not according to my fear or my nationality. Through Jesus, and only through Jesus, I’m able to see through love. Even my enemies.
And this is what I see:
Not a few individuals who carried out the plan of terror. Not a people group who look a certain way. Not a set of beliefs. Not a country filled with evil people.
What I see is fear. Evil plans and sinful acts rooted in fear. This is the real enemy that sweeps across your created land, and invades the human heart. Fear is the root of pride – the fear of being vulnerable. Fear is the root of selfishness – the fear of surrendering your will. Fear is the reason we build defenses – we’re afraid of getting hurt. Fear is the reason we don’t trust – we’re afraid we won’t be loved. Fear is the motivation of attack – we’re afraid of other nations’ or other peoples’ power.
These are all acts of fear, acts of terror that lead to death. In little and big ways. Death of love. Death of relationship. Death of life.
I utter prayers for my enemies with greater humility as I realize the root of my sin is the same as theirs. Oh, don’t get me wrong — my human mind struggles to compare me with them. I can’t help but see their sin as evil and mine as human. But right now, with my eyes bowed before you, I feel like I’m getting this tiny glimpse as I try with my whole heart to see the enemy through Jesus.
You tell us that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
I believe this. So today, I pray against the enemy of fear. The way it keeps us from living. The way it hinders love. The way it acts out in violence. The way it changes how we look at people. The way it holds us captive in comfort. The way it covers over light. The way it produces more fear.
And this is my prayer:
That you keep fear far away from your people. Let not our hearts respond according to it. Drive it out with your love. Perfect us in this love that we have no reason to fear. And shield us from the fear of others, that we not become victims of this evil enemy. I pray this for me. For my friends. For this nation. For foreign lands. For other religions. For the rich and poor. For the free and captive. For the sinner and the forgiven.
Death stung that eleventh day. It had no victory, but it stung. Yet, we choose to believe that you will make it right. You’ve been redeeming since that day, and you will continue until your creation has come back to you.