Praying For Nazis – How Loving the Lowest Can Lift Your Spirits

Candle in the hands

In this world of divisiveness and false equivalencies, it’s easy to get pulled along with the tide of hatred. There are days when I want to scream at the television. I want to shake the people who seem blind to the injustice taking place. I can feel my blood pressure rise. I am drowning in hopelessness and cynicism when I hear a calm voice inside my head offering these words of advice, Pray for them.

“But I don’t want to pray for Nazis!” I scream to nobody in particular.

Days later, more horrible events unfold, which leaves me wondering how people can commit such atrocities. Again I hear the call to pray for them.

I argue, “Absolutely not! I won’t pray for members of ISIS or Al Qaeda.” Neo-Nazis, the KKK, ISIS, Al Qaeda I’m certain there are important differences distinguishing one hate group from the other. But, does it really matter? It seems to me, if you can look another human being in the eye and purposely take their life, you’ve lost all humanity and are beyond redemption.

Yet there is the voice, “Pray for them.”

Angrily, I concede. My jaw tightens as I muse. My inexperienced, half-assed prayers are about what a Nazi deserves. I mean, it’s not like my prayers are anything special. I don’t have a lot of experience with prayer. I mostly pray when I am in trouble; when I can barely croak out a feeble cry for help. Or when I see others in even worse situations, I pray for them. But my favorite time to pray and often the most effective is when I can’t think of anything else to do. I give up my struggle and plead to God or the Universe or whoever will listen, to please take away my burden because I simply can’t carry it anymore.

That’s how I feel now, as I read the news about the hatred in the world. I am powerless to do anything and it makes me miserable to know it’s going on. So I release my anger and frustration and sense of helplessness.

The only way I can imagine God fixing things is if He or She could somehow enter the hearts of these wretched creatures and ease their pain long enough for them to consider the possibility of another way. Maybe if I can see these unfortunate, disillusioned, young men as my brothers, they too can see their perceived enemies as fellow human beings who deserve the same happiness we are all seeking.

I picture their angry faces and try to envision a softening. I like to imagine them as children before their heart and their face became hardened by life’s circumstances. Part of me believes this is an exercise in futility. It’s probably naive of me to think praying for Nazi’s does a lick of good. But I notice my jaw isn’t set quite as tightly. My pulse seems to have slowed. I feel a sense of peace returning to my body.

Wouldn’t it be something if somewhere right now, an angry, misguided individual was feeling the same thing? Imagine if we all did this. It couldn’t hurt, even if we did it out of selfish reasons— to feel our own heart ease a bit, to feel the softening that comes from surrendering.

Why not pray for a Nazi or two? Why not pray for a terrorist or Kim Jong-un or Donald J. Trump? Why not pray for the people who are so miserable they’ve become hell-bent on destroying everyone around them? If anyone needs our prayers. It is them. And the process of doing so will help us far more than cursing them.


  1. Michelle
    Aug 31, 2017

    Well Kerry, you know me…..I believe I know exactly who is prompting your heart in this way. That’s how God (through the Holy Spirit) calls us into prayer. None of us knows why….why would the God of the universe ask us…virtually powerless to help, completely without ability to move evil hearts to kindness… into the power and mystery of prayer with Him? But it is his way. I know that for certain. In smaller ways I’ve experienced it in my own life.

    In the book of Matthew he is teaching us a new and radical way:

    “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbors and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?”
    Matthew 5:43-47

    Thanks for taking a risk and publishing some pretty radical thoughts about this! I hope your heart feels more peace as you pray. (No experience necessary, btw)

  2. Kerry Parry
    Sep 1, 2017

    Thank you Michelle, your insights are are so enlightening. I especially appreciate the reference to the Book of Matthew.

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