“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:43-45 (New Living Translation).
“Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them.” Romans 12:14 (New Living Translation).
“The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers.” 1 Peter 3:12 (New Living Translation).
To pray for those who persecute you is not easy for anyone. The most natural thing is to hurl insults at them and to talk to God about “fixin’ them good!” However, Jesus introduces a higher standard and calls us to act as true children of our Father in Heaven!
Just when you think that you have figured prayer out, you are getting challenged to a higher level of prayer, namely praying for your enemies! There is a promise in our scriptures we should not consider lightly. Peter writes in his letter that God’s ears are especially open, or receptive, to the requests of people who do right. Do you want the Lord to hear your requests? Do what is right, and what is right is to pray for your enemies, especially when it hurts the most. This kind of prayer gets the Father’s attention.
In fact, Jesus is our example in praying for our enemies. He was on the cross, after hours of intense suffering and torture, and with some of His last strength He made time to pray for His enemies with these words:
“Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they are doing.’” Luke 23:24 (New Living Translation).
Stephen, the first Christian martyr, followed in Jesus’ footsteps in praying for his enemies:
“As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.' He fell to his knees, shouting, 'Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!' And with that, he died.” Acts 7:59-60 (New Living Translation).
We are all called to pray for those who despitefully use us and oppose us in life. This way we imitate Jesus and show that our Father is in heaven.
Remember to ask God to bless your enemies when you pray.
- Think of someone who has caused you great harm, grief, or pain.
- Now ask God to bless that person and to forgive their offense against you.
- This prayer will free you and free them!
Excerpted from Go Vertical by Iann Schonken: