Praying for the Taliban

Aug 19, 2010


How does one pray for the Taliban?  I have to admit, though I’ve spent a lifetime in and out of church (mostly ‘in’), I’ve never been asked to pray for an enemy I find so distasteful.  

When people think of the Taliban, there is no shortage of images depicting the horror of murder, of violence, of terror…of things we all think of as ‘unforgivable’.  Even the tainting of “religion”.  Me?  I hate religion, and I detest religiosity.  

I love God.  I love His son, Jesus.  I benefit big time from the fact that They love me.  And I spend most days trying to analyze why in the world They do. 

My friend who gave the sermon this past Sunday and asked us all to pray for the Taliban, my dear and loving and liberal  friend, [Pastor] Louie, originally from Brooklyn like me – whose children I once babysat, who was once my camp counselor, who gave the eulogy at my late first husband’s memorial service – Louie, who constantly reminds me that yes, God does love me (really?), it’s something I can’t earn.  OK, I have it on the authority of an authentic Italian[-American], AND the Bible… so fuhgeddaboudit. :-)  

Interestingly, my father is also a pastor (or used to be), but we are no longer very close and I would not attend one of his sermons unless… Actually, I’m not sure the circumstances under which I would attend a sermon given by my father.  Also an Italian[-American] from Brooklyn, he somehow became an associate pastor of a Mennonite Church out here in the middle of all this farmland, but now attends a different church, occasionally speaking instead of the pastor on a Sunday morning. 

Louie and my father seem to have little else in common after the Italian, Brooklyn, speak-in-front-of-a-church thing; while Louie encouraged us all to pray for the Taliban, I couldn’t help but think of how unlikely it would be that my father would ever ask this of anyone, I could only only imagine him scoffing at such an idea.  Even worse, I can almost hear him in my head saying, “Let us all bow our heads and pray that the fires of hell are 100 times hotter for the vile members of the Taliban.  Amen.” 

And then my mother would go home and make a 3-course meal for someone on some list in the church after it had been printed in the bulletin or announced earlier that Sunday morning that she would be doing so :-/ 

Religiosity, anyone? 

Again, I’m not saying it was easy for me to pray for them – it wasn’t.  It was unpleasant and difficult for me to know what to say and to mean it, but God knows our heart(s) and fills in the rest.  And the fact that the first thing in my head was not imagining the hottest fires of hell burning members of the Taliban was also encouraging to me.  

Later that day, my husband (the atheist) said, “Well, I guess the Taliban needs prayer more than anybody, right?”   Yeah, you’re right, honey.

I wanted to say, Atheists say the darndest things, but immediately realized THAT wouldn’t be appropriate.  Things can get so confusing for my rapidly shrinking brain to decipher, but I believe that God has it all figured out, so I just do my best to trust Him.


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