Pray for my enemies? Scripture does not suggest we do this – it commands it!
This is one of the most difficult challenges for me – to activate my faith and pray with love for those who persecute believers.
Matt. 5:44 “But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you
The type of love here is agapo – Godly love (God’s love). I can understand feeling God’s love or asking for God’s love for those who love me and who have shown kindness to others who are hurt, downhearted, and needy, but Agape my enemies? Impossible.
For me. I cannot. At least that is what I thought.
Reading on I realized that my issue was allowing the attack to feel personal and the accusations permanent. Instead I saw these attacks as spiritually based.
And I saw God’s firmness and intent to work through even a hesitant or reluctant child. Verses like
Luke 6:32 “And if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.
So how can I go that extra mile? What might that look like?
The first step I can take is
Recognize the identity and origin of the enemies acts of hate and hostility
Identify in my mind that the people who are showing hatred and are hostile toward Christ followers are compromised/deluded by the one enemy – Satan
Let’s take it personally
My husband illustrated this when we had our first big argument and my quiet guy raised his voice in extreme anger and pounded on his desk, exclaiming “I WILL NOT allow Satan to ruin our relationship.”
Recently I spoke with a dear believing friend who is daily challenged by an unbelieving spouse. I wondered why, after years of such mental abuse, she could stand it Her reply amazed me: “He is not the enemy, he is deluded by the enemy – besides, I see more in the scripture about commitment than to feelings of love.” She believed she had been called to show Christ no matter the acceptance of her beliefs or the return treatment.
A long-time friend once said something extremely hurtful to me and my immediate reaction was to terminate the friendship. We talked and when I explained how deeply it affected me the friend said it was not meant to hurt me, but (and repeated the ignorance). I was appalled. It took me a couple weeks to work through it and while attending a wedding heard the “love chapter” I Corinthians 13. Applying one phrase – love keeps no record of wrong- to our relationship, through prayer I realized that person was not my enemy. Years of past friendship and probable future years together were not worth one moment of satisfaction. I gave the issue to God to handle, and we are still friends.
Now I see the need to identify those under the enemy’s power -All of these examples are a choice – to react or to respond as scripture says – with love and prayer. (2John 7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh.) not so I can demean them back but so I can pray for them.
I also see how the enemy works within my own relationships, and from without in all segments of my world, and how easily I can be fooled that my spouse or my friend, is the enemy; but the enemy is those who are being used to oppose God, and who are feeding lies into our relationships and callings.
So how can we pray the scriptures for them? Pray that those identified as consistently and intentionally opposing the things of God might have their eyes opened to truth. Pray that they would realize they are being used and are trapped and in slavery to their master, who is not just our enemy, but theirs as well. (He “prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” [from da¿ptw dapto – to consume/overwhelm/devour].I Peter 5:8
How do you pray for your enemies?