How To Pray For Iraq
10 August 2014
Recently my eldest daughter suggested that I write an article about how to pray for the current situation Iraq. Because I was already thinking along these lines, I decided to bump this article to the top of my long list of potential articles.

I'm sure that we have all heard this before, but it can't hurt to be reminded: In order for God to answer our prayers, we need to ask according to His will (1 John 5:14)

In order to effectively conform our prayers to God's will, it is important to understand some New Testament principles so that our prayers do not go astray and miss the target.

One concept that is VITAL to understand and internalize — so that it becomes part of who we are, part of our worldview — can be discovered by examining this well-known passage from the Gospels. Yeshua (Isa, Jesus) had just told His closest followers about His soon-coming martyrdom in Jerusalem.
Peter took Yeshua aside and began to rebuke Him. "Never, Master!" he said. "This shall never happen to You!" Yeshua turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns."

Then Yeshua said to His disciples, "Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For I, the Son of Man, am going to come in My Father's glory with the angels, and then I will reward each person according to what they have done." (Matthew 16:22-27)
As I wrote in Crucified Again — What's the Big Deal?
Yeshua's dramatic words clearly reveal the demonic origin of Peter's humanistic outlook, as well as the humanistic outlook of today's believers who say, regarding persecution and martyrdom: "This should never happen to Christians!" Was Yeshua talking to Peter, or to Satan? Probably both — Peter was saying the words, but it was ultimately Satan who was influencing his thoughts and worldview. So it is today with many who are called Christian.

God has His concerns, and man has his merely human concerns. As Christians, we are supposed to be putting aside our human concerns, and make God's concerns our own. The apostle Paul said about his co-worker Timothy: "I have no one else like him.... For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Yeshua the Messiah." (Philippians 2:20a,21) Later, Paul wrote to Timothy, "Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Yeshua the Messiah. Soldiers don't get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please their commanding officer." (2 Timothy 2:3-4)

God had a great and glorious plan in the sufferings and death of Yeshua. Likewise, God has a great and glorious plan in the suffering and death of Christians at the hands of Muslims. Are we going to take God's view on this, which is revealed in the New Testament, or Satan's humanistic view, which most Christians today espouse?
We really, really need to wrap our minds around this! When Peter opposed God's plan for Yeshua's martyrdom, Yeshua opposed Peter and exposed the demonic origins of his humanistic thinking. When we oppose God's plan for His children's martyrdom, by calling it "human rights" abuses and "crimes against humanity" and by lamenting and complaining about these martyrdoms, then we are being inspired by Satan just as Peter was. We REALLY don't want to go there!

Secondly, we need to settle it once and for all that another human being is NEVER our enemy. Only Satan is our enemy. If we are ever thinking (or, God forbid, praying!) along the lines of physical violence against the jihadists because of their evil actions, then we are tapping into the same violent, demonic spirit which the Muslims are. As I wrote further in Crucified Again — What's the Big Deal?
Muslims are NOT the enemy! The real enemy of mankind is "that ancient serpent called the devil [false accuser, slanderer], or Satan [adversary], who leads the whole world astray." (Revelation 12:9) I realize that most Christians will have a very hard time accepting this statement, but it's true, and their lack of acceptance reveals once again their pagan, non-Biblical mindset. This same chapter describes how Christians can have victory over Satan:
They triumphed over him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb [Yeshua] and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. (Revelation 12:11)
The ultimate victory over Satan is Christian martyrdom. Yeshua Himself said:
"Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I [Yeshua] tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution.... Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor's crown." (Revelation 2:10)
Victory over Satan and a victor's crown from Yeshua Himself await those Christians killed by Muslims. So why the lamentation and complaining? What's the big deal? Unless Christians don't really believe what the Bible says!
I expand on this concept in more detail in my article Loving Not Our Lives Unto Death — be sure to read it!

The Muslims are in bondage to the demonic impostor-god Allah. They are not the enemy, but victims of THE Enemy. The strong man needs to be bound so that he can be plundered (Luke 11:21-22), and his victims taken from the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of Yeshua (Colossians 1:13-14). One of God's primary means of accomplishing this is through the martyrdom of His children. THAT is how we can triumph over Satan and plunder his spoils.

When praying for Iraq, it can be very easy to get all caught up in issues like borders and politics and which faction is in charge. Ultimately, in the big picture, God is not really that concerned about these kinds of earthly matters. As Yeshua indicated to Peter, these are more the concerns of Satan, the god or prince of THIS world (John 12:31,14:30,16:11; 2 Corinthians 4:4).
  • Pray that His Kingdom — God's rule and reign — comes to Iraq, that His will is done in Iraq, as it is in Heaven (Matthew 6:10).
  • Pray that those in Iraq who call themselves Christians will remain faithful to Yeshua and not deny Him in order to save their earthly lives (Matthew 10:32-33; Mark 8:35).
  • Pray that they would be strengthened to face persecution, torture and death by the fact that anything they suffer in this life is not even worth comparing with the glory which will be revealed in them (Romans 8:18).
  • Pray that the Christians of Iraq would, even at this late hour, be granted a supernatural understanding of God's use of martyrdom to accomplish His eternal purposes.
  • Pray that they would embrace the method of death, whatever and whenever that is, through which God will chose to glorify Himself (John 21:19).
  • Pray that Iraqi Christians would hold on to the truth that they are more than conquerors, as they walk in the footsteps of the Master, the Lamb of God who was slain, as sheep to the slaughter. And that they would always remember that God is right there loving them in the midst of their current situation (Romans 8:35-39).
  • Pray for boldness to proclaim the Good News of Yeshua, and His supremacy as King of kings and Lord of lords over Allah (Acts 4:29; Ephesians 6:19-20).
  • Pray that the believers in Iraq will be set free from fear and panic (Hebrews 2:14-15), and will count their lives as nothing compared to finishing the task God has assigned them (Acts 20:24).
  • Pray that they will fix their eyes on, and imitate, the Master, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorned its shame, and endured such opposition from sinners, so that they will not grow weary and lose heart (Hebrews 12:2-3).
  • Pray that the Iraqi Christians would be so bold in living for Yeshua and so courageous in dying for Him that they will set a glorious example for the rest of Yeshua's Body worldwide to follow once it become their turn to suffer such persecution and martyrdom (1 Corinthians 11:1).
  • Pray that they will rejoice greatly, knowing that the testing of their faith will result in praise, glory and honor when Yeshua the Messiah returns (1 Peter 1:6-7).
  • Pray that the Christians in Iraq would remember the words and acts of Yeshua, whose example they are called to follow: "When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly" (1 Peter 2:21-23).
  • Don't forget to pray for the Yazidi, as well as other non-Christian religious minorities in Iraq, who are targeted for extermination by the jihadists. God wants ALL people to be saved (1 Timothy 2:3-5), but Satan comes only to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10).
Well, I could go on and on! The New Testament is FULL of instruction about how to live and die according to God's will in the face of persecution and martyrdom.

See how wonderful it is to pray the Bible back to God?! It focuses our prayers so that we will assuredly hit the target of God's will. In doing so, we will be strengthening the feeble arms and week knees of the Iraqi Christians, and making level paths for their feet so that they can walk in God's paths until the end (Hebrews 12:12-13). In the same way, when it comes our turn in the West to suffer persecution, torture and martyrdom at the hands of Islam, God will raise up Christians from around the world to pray for us (2 Corinthians 1:5-6).

Even though I have given you my ideas, and you undoubtedly have your own ideas, God says that we don't really know how to pray as we ought. Therefore an important means of on-target prayer is to not depend on our own understanding, but to submit our minds to God and allow Him to direct the paths of our prayers (Proverbs 3:5-6). Knowing our weakness, our Heavenly Father has given us His Holy Spirit to help us to pray. The Spirit intercedes through us for God's people in accordance with the will of God (Romans 8:26-27).

Whenever the New Testament talks about Yeshua's position at the right hand of God, it ALWAYS says that He is SITTING (see here, here, and here). That is, EXCEPT in ONE instance — the stoning of Stephen, the first Christian martyr (Acts 7:54-60). In this case, Yeshua is described as STANDING at the right hand of God. It is quite likely that Yeshua was standing in order to honor and welcome Stephen, and present him with his victor's crown (Revelation 2:10).

Therefore, let's celebrate each time a martyr wins the victory over Satan, rather than grieving like the rest of mankind who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Let's be part of a standing ovation and royal welcome here on earth, just as it is in Heaven when a martyr arrives before Yeshua, the King of kings and the ultimate Martyr. And let's direct our prayers accordingly!