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Prayer & fasting for Iraq crisis urged by Richard Land, 11 others

WASHINGTON (BP)–A dozen Christian leaders, including Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land, have called for prayer and fasting that a war with Iraq may be averted.

Though the signers acknowledge many of them believe a conflict with Iraq would be justified, they said in an open letter “no one wants to go to war.”

“Fasting and prayer are the Christian response to this perilous hour,” they said. “God in His providence may yet spare us from war. We must ask him to intervene. Pray that, by God’s mercy, there will be no reason to go to war. Pray for wisdom for our leaders and for God’s mercy on Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi people.”

Land is president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. Other signers of the letter included Chuck Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries; Jerry Falwell, pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va., and chancellor of Liberty University; D. James Kennedy, senior minister of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Pat Robertson, chief executive officer of the Christian Broadcasting Network; Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse; and Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals.

The letter called for Christians and churches of all traditions to pray if war does occur that “it will be short and that God will spare civilians. Pray too for the protection of those in uniform and that our leaders will be wise and merciful.”

In calling for prayer and fasting, the signers cited the biblical example of King Jehoshaphat of Judah in 2 Chronicles 20. When confronted with invading forces, Jehoshaphat proclaimed a fast and led the people in prayer. Though Judah’s army was prepared to fight, it was not required. God delivered a victory without Judah’s army going into battle.

Though the United States has the world’s best military forces ready for battle, “we remember that prayer is mightier than our armies and that God alone gives the victory or defeat,” the letter said.

Other signers of the letter were Kenneth Boa, president of Reflections Ministries; Mark Early, president of Prison Fellowship; Richard John Neuhaus, Roman Catholic priest and president of the Institute on Religion and Public Life; Sandy Rios, president of Concerned Women for America; and Joseph Stowell, president of Moody Bible Institute.

Land has been a primary defender of United States military action against Iraq as a “just war.” He has contended the situation with Hussein’s regime in Baghdad meets the seven-point test for participation in a military conflict to be just.

Thomas Road Baptist Church is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.

The letter was dated Ash Wednesday, March 5.