A Prayer for Fred Phelps

“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.” Matthew 7:1

The Washington Post/Getty Images

The Washington Post/Getty Images

by Susan Irene Fox

I have only sadness and pity in my heart for Fred Phelps and the church he started.

If the name sounds familiar, but you cannot place it, Fred Phelps is the man who beget the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC). The church that makes those of us who follow Jesus cringe. The church that causes non-believers to turn away from Christianity.

I feel no anger, no hatred, because I understand the simple yet profound truth that if they do not allow the God who loves us to transform their hearts they will never experience the eternal life that Christ so nobly and courageously gave us.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

God loves the world – not just some of us. He wants all of us to have a relationship with Him, not just some of us. Jesus welcomed sinners and soldiers and tax collectors into his fold. He was their Shepherd, not their accuser. He loved them and taught them and healed them; he didn’t picket at their funerals.

We are all sinners in our own way. Those of us who have allowed the love of Jesus to transform us have an understanding of the grace given to us. We have an understanding that we didn’t deserve it.

Christ freed us from the desire to hate or judge. He freed us to love and include. He freed us to extend a hand of compassion, just as he did throughout his ministry. The members of WBC sadly remain in the captivity of their own hatred.

The fact that Jesus asked us not to judge requires me not to judge Fred Phelps. It requires me not to desire picketers at his funeral. It requires me to pray that he has a change of heart, that he asks forgiveness, along with the people he influenced and caused to stumble along the way.

Heavenly Father, I pray for your son Fred Phelps. I lift him up to You before he suffers a permanent death. I pray that he sees You for who You are – a God who loves everyone, who calls all creation to Himself. I pray that his followers also become thirsty for You, Lord, and begin to ask forgiveness for their hatred. I pray they open their hearts to You one by one, that they experience Your love, grace and mercy in a way that fills them and changes them. I pray they offer this same love, grace and mercy to others as a reflection of their change and Your light in them.

I ask all who read this to pray this prayer.

I lift this prayer in love, in Jesus’ name.


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About Susan Irene Fox

Jesus follower, peacemaker, unfinished human. Body: over 60; Reborn: August, 2006. Writing devotional workbooks for new believers. Dedicated to using God's grace and unconditional love to bring people into God's embrace.

Posted on March 19, 2014, in On Judging Others and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Beautifully said, God Bless 🙂

  2. Wow. That is a tough one because he has done so much damage. I will join you in the prayer though. I’ll have to check my attitude before we start. Thanks for challenging me that way.

    • Thank you, Mark. It is extremely difficult to pray for someone like Phelps, I know. I have had my own very negative judgments of him in the past. I don’t know what else to say except that I was called to write this last night. As I wrote, I began to hear Jesus’ words in my head over and over. I pray I am challenged the same way. Bless you for your willingness to open your heart to pray.

  3. You are right about the negative impact that his church has on general opinion; however I am certain that not everyone judges all Christians by his measure (even non-believers like myself 🙂 )

    • I certainly hope not, Viki. I can only pray that since he took people with him in the wrong direction, he will change and take as many with him in the opposite direction. I know that may not heal the hurt he has already done, but it may prevent a lot of further hurt from happening.

  4. Well said. It is always easier to curse the darkness than it is to light a candle. May love be our governing rule and may we cling to it ferociously.

  5. This is so touching. Thank you so much. I will remember it not only for Fred Phelps but others who we might see as unlovable. I disagree with their actions but still hold hope for their souls and that they might turn to God at any moment even if we do not know that.

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