Praying for the Devil
I have heard all sorts of strange prayers through the years. But I must say, I’ve never heard of praying for the devil. George Yancy, a professor of philosophy at Emory University, said that when he was a little boy raised in a religious home he once asked his mom if it would be alright for him to pray for the devil. Eventually she said yes.
So the little boy got down on his knees at the end of the day and he prayed,
“Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
if I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
God bless my mother, my sister, and my friends. And God bless the devil.”
I don’t know about praying for the devil. But I do know that Jesus said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28). Some people have said that this is the most distinctively Christian of all the Commandments found in the Bible. Certainly, it goes against all our natural impulses.
Some of us might claim that we have no enemies, that we have no “devils” in our life that we need to pray for. But most of us recognize that in fact we do have enemies of various sorts. Perhaps it is someone who has gossiped about us or someone at work who has undermined us. Or we may see as enemies certain politicians who support policies that we believe are destructive to the common good. Or we might think of those involved in ISIS as an enemies.
Truthfully, our first impulse is probably not to get on our knees and pray for these people. But perhaps if we listened to Jesus more deeply we would. That does not mean that we would approve of what they are doing. And praying for them does not suggest that we would not actively stand opposed to their actions. But it would be a way of acknowledging that God has not written them off, regardless of how we might feel about them. As Jesus said, “God causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45).
It is hard to keep negative feelings in check when we face people who are doing things that we believe are devilish. But we need to embrace the wisdom of scripture: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).
Grace & Peace,