Praying for sheep in wolves' clothing

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

Once again, terrorism has struck. I join the world in condemning and grieving over the Russian school hostage situation. As a parent who has also lost a child, I send tender love to all the families involved.

As a member of society, I pledge to further the causes of equity and safety that will serve to adjust and protect. As a member of God's family, I vow to continue praying for peace for all my brothers and sisters planetwide, including the sheep in wolves' clothing.

Not long ago, this newspaper carried a picture of a lioness that had adopted a young orphaned antelope. Here was an example of a sheep in wolf's clothing - a dangerous predator on the outside with a caring nature on the inside.

With continued vigilance in watching for wolves in sheep's clothing, perhaps it's worthwhile to also look out for the sheep in wolves' clothing. I'm thinking of those individuals needing irresistible impulsions to drop mistaken but deadly intentions and fanatical conditioning.

The 9/11 Commission revealed that some would- be 9/11 terrorists backed out of participating for various reasons. These individuals were released, to some small degree, from predatory behavior, and thus, fewer lives were lost than were originally and cruelly intended.

The Bible quotes God as saying, "All souls are mine" (Ezek. 18:4), and later says, "God is love" (I John 4:16). If those statements are true, then all people are the children of Love - including the fanatically misguided. How can this be?

If we look first to the divine Parent, we can see that such heinous behavior and attitudes don't belong to God. Therefore, they don't rightfully belong to any of His children, whom He made just like Himself (see Gen. 1:27). Somehow, someday, such temporary, wrongful traits and behaviors must be stripped from all God's children, leaving humanity safer and happier.

Prayer is effective in reforming evil thinking. Jesus urged his followers, "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you ... pray for them which despitefully use you" (Matt. 5:44). Can prayer for a determined enemy really help release both you and your enemy from the effects of hatred? A friend of mine, Beth, thinks so.

Years ago, a group of people was mistakenly convinced Beth's family had committed wrongdoing, and sought legal means to prove it. The attorney they hired had a fanatical zeal to do as much damage as possible, including baiting the media and seeking prison terms. My friend felt like a hunted animal, and prayed daily for many months to see this man as a child belonging to God, Love. But the attorney's persistent efforts to harm made this prayer difficult.

When it came time to pick an important court date, this attorney deliberately chose, on the spot, the only date over a two-month period my friend's legal counsel offered as unavailable. A professional group Beth was in had been hired to make a presentation that day, and other members of the group were counting on the income to pay rent and other bills.

As the lawyers haggled with the judge over the issue, she prayed more earnestly than ever before, and suddenly got a glimpse of the offending attorney as a lamb- kin of God - pure, innocent, deeply cherished, and loving. And right with that glimpse came the idea to meet a half day, which still would allow the presentation to occur.

All parties, including the opposing attorney, agreed to this plan. From that point, he became much less toxic in all their dealings, and eventually, when Beth and her family were exonerated, he expressed relief that the case was over.

Those wrapping themselves in hate with intentions of committing deadly acts must be stopped and restrained. Prayer is a powerful weapon to wield in releasing both victims and victimizers. The divine Love active in prayer directly destroys the evil imposing itself on human beings to harm and be harmed, setting all free to live as loving children of a loving God.

Do we have enough love to pray for our enemies, as directed by Jesus, and not stop until the wolves' disguise is removed from the sheep? As we do everything possible to try to thwart further terrorist acts, can we really afford not to pray?

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