When in Bangkok recently, I had the privilege of meeting Annie Dieselberg, founder of NightLight Ministries. An amazing woman, she is, leading an equally amazing ministry to victims of prostitution and trafficking and to the men who haunt the red-light districts seeking to buy a commodity that shouldn’t be for sale.
As Annie spoke about the spiritual dimension to this ministry, she made a comment that has changed the way I pray. Here’s what she said: “We don’t pray for the red-light district to be shut down. If that happens, it will only spring up in a different location. Rather, we pray for it to be transformed. Transformation means that lives have been changed, and that’s what we want to see happen.”
Annie’s prayer for NightLight can be applied to other contexts, too. Here are a few examples:
- ISIS – We can pray for these extremists to be stopped, but that’s not a permanent fix. They’ll go into hiding to regroup, appoint new leaders, and ramp up their recruiting efforts. The only permanent fix is for them to experience life transformation through Jesus Christ.
- Corrupt world leaders – We can pray that they’ll be removed from office, but that won’t stop them from spreading corruption somewhere else. Let’s pray that God will transform their hearts, again, through relationship with Jesus Christ.
- People who have hurt us. We can pray for God to remove them from our lives, but that won’t stop them from hurting us long-distance or from inflicting wounds on other people. Let’s pray instead for God to transform them through a vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ.
When we pray for evil-doers on a broad scope and for those who’ve personally caused us pain, let’s trust God for what might seem impossible—for hearts to be transformed through the Holy Spirit’s conviction and Christ’s compelling love. Then, and only then, will we see true and lasting change.
Question: How can you apply this prayer to a situation in your own life?