November 5, 2017
READ: Matthew 5:43-48
But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! (v.44).
My husband and I were discussing an elderly person who was being bullied by a professing believer in Jesus in their Christian workplace—unaware that our 10 year old daughter had overheard us talking. A few days later, however, when my daughter and I were walking around the track at the local fitness centre, I told her that I often pray for people as I walk each lap because I find that to be a good use of time. She responded: “Why don’t we pray for that person who was being bullied and for the bully too? Jesus said to pray for our enemies.”
She was right. Jesus does tell us to pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:44-46). After all, God provides good things, like rain, for both the evil and the good (v.45). God is good and kind to His enemies even though they continually ignore Him. In fact, even before we were born, Jesus showed us His love by dying for us—sinners who act as enemies to ourselves, to God and to others. When we pray for our enemies, Christ-like love and compassion for them can grow. It doesn’t mean we allow abuse to continue, but we don’t retaliate in kind.
Praying for our enemies can take time and is definitely a work of grace, not something we are naturally inclined to do. But in time we just might find ourselves praying even more for them as our hearts soften.
I was thrilled to learn that my daughter had internalised what we had taught her. Although I didn’t want to pray for the bully that day because I was tired of this person getting away with awful behaviour, I still chose to pray as Jesus told us to. There’s a beauty that radiates in our hearts when we pray for others—the beauty found in Jesus Himself. For He chose to love us even when we were His enemies.
365-day-plan: Acts 19:1-20
Read Acts 7:54-60 and consider why Stephen could pray to God regarding those who were killing him, “Don’t charge them with this sin!”
How are honesty and grace related? Why is it so powerful for you to pray for your enemies and to reach out to them in God’s love?