Family Liturgies

Prayer in the Face of Terror


Tara Wiley

Continue to remember…those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.  – Hebrews 13:3


A letter from your sponsored child… The kids huddled around the counter as I tugged the trifold paper from its cream envelope. We always looked forward to hearing from Joseph, a twelve year old boy in Kenya whose family we support financially. His letters usually contain cheerful details about school and soccer, with a few cartoon-like drawings he labels to show off his growing English vocabulary. One line in this note was startlingly different.

“Pray for us. Terrorists are attacking Kenya. Pray for our safety.”

Just like that, terrorism became an unwelcome guest in our kitchen.

My middle school son and I have regular conversations about the increase of terrorism, and specifically, about the brutal attacks on Christians, Jews, and mainstream Muslims currently spreading from their epicenter in the Middle East to strike fear in the rest of the world. I’ve tried to shelter my six year old from this frightening reality. Now I had no choice but to answer her questions, and to carefully consider our family’s response.

A subject like this becomes divisive when we begin to talk about political responses, but there is one place we Christians can all gather with a common voice: the place of prayer.

How do we pray in the face of terror?

Jesus gives us some direction:

 You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Matthew 5:43-44

Paul, writing from prison, also instructs,

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. – Ephesians 6:18-20

Spiritual Practice:

In this day and age, all but the youngest of our children will be exposed to the concept of terrorism. Talk about our Scriptural calling to pray for Christians suffering for their faith. Discuss also the call to pray for our enemies. We may feel helpless in the face of terrorism, but the truth is, we have the greatest power available as we choose to turn our fear into prayer. Visit Voice of the Martyrs for a list of Scriptures to direct your discussion and prayers.


Father God, our world is hurting. People are hurting each other.
We do not understand why people might turn to terrorism, but we can pray.
Jesus, bring Your peace and light to our hurting world.
Jesus, shine in Christians. Help us to live bright lives for you that draw everyone around us into Your truth.
Lord, help the hurting people in this world who are taking their own fear and anger and lashing out against others in terrifying ways. Help them see You and be changed. Let them feel Your love and become loving. This will take a miracle, God, but we believe You can do miracles even today.
Give us Your peace as we trust You.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.


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