Praying for Enemies?

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy,’ but I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you , so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.  For he makes his sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.”  Matthew 5:43-45

Pray for our enemies, those who persecute us?  This is another hard teaching.  However, it’s quite clear.  And we’re not to pray simply for an end to their persecution, either, because Romans 12:14 tells us,

“Bless those who persecute you;  bless and do not curse them.”

I don’t think I have enemies–at least not the kind who want to hurt you or seriously try to make bad things happen to you.  However, there are people in my life that annoy me, that say things I don’t agree with, who make my life difficult in some way.  There are surely people who don’t like me for one reason or another, maybe even a few that say unkind things about me or seem to go out of their way to be unpleasant.  Yet God wants me to pray for them?  It seems that He does. The verses from Matthew point out that God blesses the evil and unjust (it is His habit to be graceful) and we should do the same.

So, have you ever tried praying for an enemy?  I have.  Someone once said that it’s hard to stay angry with someone you pray for, and that has been my experience.  When I pray for a person I have difficulty with, I often find God reveals something to me about their life that helps me sympathize with them.  Maybe they have a lot of stress in their life;  maybe they are grieving, maybe they had a dreadful childhood, or are being abused by their spouse. Maybe they’re just tired and had a really bad day at work. It doesn’t make the bad behavior right, but it makes it easier to bear, more understandable. After all, don’t we all need grace sometimes?

So I challenge you to pray for your enemies.  Let us know how it turns out.






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