In the most recent wave of electronic intercession for Youcef Nadarkhani, voices have arisen questioning the nature of his faith even while the Iranian government’s axe is laid at the root of his tree. If it is true, as some have claimed, that this man denies the doctrine of the Trinity, then the nature of our prayers for him must radically change. A man’s life is in danger, yes; but we are instructed not to fear those who kill the body, but the one who has the power to destroy both soul and body in hell.
But much of this discussion is cloudy – I for one cannot verify that Youcef is a Trinitarian Christian. I do know that a Christian believes in Jesus; specifically, in the Jesus who along with the Father and the Holy Spirit are three persons in one God. I know that any other Jesus than this is not a Jesus who saves, no matter how movingly prayed to, or eloquently spoken of. I also know that lies are competing with pornographic images for mastery of the internet, and that it is easy to destroy a man’s reputation with a keyboard. I also know that the Iranian government is not driven by zeal for the Triune God or an abundance of theological discernment, and will just as readily kill a Trinitarian heretic as they would a Trinitarian believer. So I make no claims about Youcef’s faith – I do not know that he is a brother in Christ, and I do not know that he is a cult leader. I do know that he is a human being, made in the image of God, with the potential to be a mighty witness for Christ in a dark, dark country, in all likelihood given the opportunity to seal his confession with his blood, adding his witness to the long line of martyr-seed cast onto hard ground. He also has the potential to be a mighty instrument of the Adversary, leading many into true worship’s devastating counterfeit, salving consciences and feeding hearts on that most deceptively satisfying meal, the almost truth.
I don’t and can’t know everything. I have searched the web, and it is vanity and striving after wind. But I can still pray, trusting that the Spirit will perfect my prayers, and make them acceptable to the Father, and I would encourage you to pray as well.
O Triune God,
You made Youcef for your own glory. You will be glorified whether he lives or dies, and even whether his faith is in you, or in an idol. We know that you will be glorified, but we want to see your glory. We want the Trinitarian God to be seen as powerful, wonderful, and faithful, a God who hears and answers prayer, a God who saves Muslim idolaters, Trinitarian heretics, and lazy, safe, self-righteous Christians from darkness, and a God who has a strong right arm, mightily working to deliver His own. And so we ask that you demonstrate your glory to us, and to the Iranian government, and to the rest of the world in this situation.
We know that life is good, and that death is an enemy, and so we pray for Youcef’s life, asking that you spare him from the hands of murderous and evil men. We pray that the extreme testing he is undergoing would indeed purify his faith. Don’t let him be satisfied with the crusts of heresy, but fill him with the Bread of life, sent by the Father, and partaken of by the power of the Spirit. Don’t let him die for a lie! We acknowledge with tears that we have not loved and celebrated the fact that you are a Trinitarian God in such a way that all counterfeits are exposed as unfruitful works of darkness, and so in this difficult time, we struggle to know how to pray. For our carelessness and failure to love your truth and expose error, we ask your forgiveness.
O Father, we recognize that on the long list of things we do not know, we need to add that we do not know how you will best be glorified in this situation. If the road to the glory of God leads through Youcef’s death, we submit to your will, but we would ask of you that his story would not end in death, but that we might see Youcef in the resurrection, and hear him say that fellowship with Father, Son and Spirit is immeasurably better than life. We pray that his soul would be satisfied in the Triune God alone, that he might say with Paul that to live is Christ, and death is more Christ. We pray that he would leave his family a legacy of faithfulness unto death, whether now or fifty years from now.
We thank you, Father, that our prayers ascend to you by the power of the Holy Spirit, because of the atoning work of Jesus on our behalf. Glory be to the Father, glory be to the Son, glory be to the Spirit, Amen.