Praying for Enemies

Jesus taught us to pray for our enemies.  What exactly does that mean?  When someone has been very hurtful, it is extremely difficult to even wish them well.  If we pray for them, what do we pray? 

Maybe it must start out with our being entirely honest with God about how we feel.  He understands perfectly.  There isn’t a situation nor an emotion Jesus didn’t experience Himself when He walked the earth.  No enemy has ever hurt me the way He was hurt by His.  If I can sort out my own emotions in His Presence, I can begin to heal with His help.  Now I can do the hard part of asking Him about what I need to do to make things right, at least on my side.  Sometimes there is nothing I can do.  Sometimes my enemy is my enemy simply because of who I am or things for which I have taken a stand.  If I can’t change my position, I can’t apologize.  If I was rude, I can apologize for that.  But one thing I can never apologize for is telling the truth, even if I hurt someone by doing so.

Having satisfied the need to be right before God–having nothing He would have me do which I am refusing to face, I can ask His help for my enemy.  Of all things I could pray for them, its for their own soul to be at peace before God, and to be in right standing with Him themselves.  If my enemy hates me for purely political reasons, thats one thing.  Maybe they need to sort out some of their own emotions surrounding the stands they are taking.  But if they hate me because they are in rebellion against God, thats an issue I can certainly pray about.  Christians have some rather virulent enemies, especially if they have taken stands on moral issues, or even a particularly well explained stand on such basics as the existence of God.  When one is faced with that sort of enemy, God alone can help.  First, one needs to pray for protection, since this kind of hatred may be inspired by evil spiritual power.  Second, one needs to pray for the release of bondage for the person involved.  One can pray that God will do all in His infinite power to break through that person’s defenses, as only God knows how to do.  God is a God of mercy, and our prayers for a merciful intervention by God on behalf of our enemy, is surely a prayer pleasing to Him.  Whether that person has gone over into the realm of blasphemy against God’s spirit, is something only God can know.  It is not our affair.

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