I am old enough to remember 9/11. I remember my exact location as massive planes hijacked by Al Qaeda flew innocent people into the New York City trade towers and the Pentagon. The result of 9/11 was a war with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Since 9/11/2001, there has been an American presence in Afghanistan. But now, the troops are coming home.
And unless you have been living in a van down by the river – without cell service and electricity – you know the pull-out from Afghanistan has been an unmitigated disaster. The Taliban has regained control of the country. The Afghan government, which the US established, no longer exists. People have died, and there are concerns that American citizens and those who helped the US in the last twenties years are stranded in Afghanistan. In sum, the situation does not look good. So in the following days, weeks, and months, heads will perhaps roll, and there will be loud calls for accountability. A large portion of the US citizenry will want accountability.
The politicking will rage on. Of course, as a citizen of this fine country, I have opinions on what we are currently witnessing. But there is another pressing response to the violence and concerns for enemies of the Taliban. It’s prayer. Now is the time for the church to rise up and pray.
Pray for All
The Bible is full of exhortations to pray for people you do not know. For example, here is 1 Timothy 2:1-5.
I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray in this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.– 1 Timothy 2:1-5
God calls Christians to pray for all people, and this includes the people of Afghanistan. We should also pray for those in authority (cf. Romans 13:1-7). God desires those in authority to rule righteously. All people and those serving in government are a lot of people. But as it pertains to the situation in Afghanistan, here is how you can begin to pray.
Pray for the Family and Friends of Fallen Soldiers
At the time of writing, 13 individuals serving in the US military have been killed in the recent bombings at the Hamid Karzai International Airport. I suspect this number will increase, but I pray it does not. Each person who has died is connected to families and friends. They are now mourning. We need to mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15) and pray they receive comfort from God.
Pray for Americans Stranded in Afghanistan
There are American citizens still in Afghanistan who want to get out of Afghanistan. I visited Kabul in 2006. It’s congested and challenging to navigate in the most ideal of times. I cannot imagine what it would be like to make my way to Hamid Karzai International Airport while the Taliban controls the city. American citizens are in danger. They need our prayer.
Pray for the Afghan People whose lives are in Danger
The Taliban are in control, and Sharia Law is going to be imposed upon the populace. What does this mean? Here is a taste of what portions of the public will face. According to the Washington Post,
When the Taliban last controlled the country, from 1996 to 2001, the militants enforced a harsh interpretation of sharia law. Women were forced to wear burqas — the head-to-toe, face-covering garment — and could face beatings if they ventured outside on their own without a male guardian (Emphasis is mine).
Here is the bottom line. It is almost certain the oppression of women will once again reign in Afghanistan. I fear what we don’t read is far worse than what we can read from news outlets like The Washington Post. Pray for the marginalized in Afghanistan, especially the women and children.
Pray for the Taliban
It might seem odd to read but pray for the Taliban. The Taliban serve a false God. The Taliban need to know the saving power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Romans 1:16 is a fitting reminder.
Undoubtedly, the power of God to save a person like the apostle Paul, who penned Romans 1:16, can also invade the hearts of members of the Taliban. May the reality of God’s power inform our hearts when praying for the Taliban.
An Evolving Situation
I understand what is transpiring in Afghanistan is an evolving situation. New information will come out daily. It is not lost on me that Democrats and Republicans will use these tragic events for their political gain. But the church must rise above the politics and realize there are soldiers, US citizens, and Afghan people in danger. Life and death hang in the balance. The church must rise up or get on its knees to pray to God for mercy.
Shawn Powers is the lead pastor of Redemption Hill Church. You can follow him on Twitter at shawn_DSM.