Praying For Your Enemy
Why Should I Pray For My Enemies
Let me ask you a question. When was the last time you prayed for the salvation of Bin Laden, the Taliban or the Al-Qaeda? When was the last time you prayed for the salvation of many of our Congressmen and Senators or for our President? It would be easy for most of us to pray that Bin Laden and the Taliban have a quick and untimely death.
Before we go any further, do not get me wrong. I believe our military should be engaging our enemy in order to destroy them and their potential to hurt and injure our people. But on a personal level, I have a responsibility to pray for their spiritual welfare regardless how I may feel about them.
Let us hit a little closer to home. When was the last time you prayed for God’s to bless those who you find distasteful, disagreeable or even hate? Particularly those who have mistreated you, lied about you, or have tried to ruin your reputation. In such cases we find it much easier to wish for God’s swift judgment and vengeance to fall upon them and maybe some of us have even prayed for such an outcome in secrecy. It is hard to pray that God will bless someone like this! To be even more candid, recently I heard of some trouble that has come the way of those who done some of very nasty things to me and I have to say it did for a time cause me some pleasure. Terrible thing for a pastor to do! It was human response but not the godly response!
The words of a faithful friend put things right when I shared what I had learned and he said, I take no pleasure in what you have told me. Those words hit me hard and called me back to where I should have been all along. I should be praying for God’s blessings rather than wishing God’s judgment upon those who wrongfully use me or threaten me.
Lets listen to the words of the writers of the New Testament on this matter.
Matt 5:43-48, “"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor* and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren* only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
Rom 12:19-21, “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,"* says the Lord. Therefore "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
1 Thes 5:15, “See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.”
1 Peter 3:8-10, “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.”
It is easy to say we should treat people in this matter but how can we practically live out these words? After all, how does one love his enemy?
The term that is used for Love is agape, the love that is at the heart of God. It is a much higher form of love than that which comes naturally to man. As we just read, the human form of love says I love my neighbor and hate my enemy, however the love of God changes all of this. Agape love transcends our emotions by putting as top priority the concern for and the meeting of the needs of others including our enemies. Please note, God never said we had to like our enemy or want to fellowship with him. However He did say that we should take note of our enemies needs and seek if possible to meet those needs.
For example, recently I was told that someone has been sharing a lie about me. This hurts deeply because there is no truth in the accusation and yet many are probably accepting it as true. Now this does not place within me warm feelings toward this individual neither do I feel like having fellowship with them at this time. However, with this said, if I noticed their car on the side of the road because of a flat tire and they are stranded, the love of God would compel me to stop and help them. I may not be able in my humanity to feel loving toward them, but that does not change the fact that I am capable of changing a tire or giving them a ride. Remember, it was this type of love that God showed toward the World when He gave Himself to be a Savior. John writes God loved us before we loved Him (1 John 4:10). Isaiah describes how God viewed sinful man indicating there was nothing in us that would have kindled the feelings of love in God’s heart. In fact just the opposite is true. God considered us His enemies before we were saved. However, He still did what was necessary to meet the needs of all of mankind
Isa 64:6-7, “But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away. And there is no one who calls on Your name, Who stirs himself up to take hold of You; For You have hidden Your face from us, And have consumed us because of our iniquities.”
This leads me to a second thought. The reason that people are hateful and do terrible things is because they are fallen, sinful human beings and most of them are in need of the Savior Jesus Christ. Yes Bin Laden was the mastermind behind the twin towers attack that so scared our nation. However let us remember, that Christ died for Him just as much as He died for us.
John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
1 John 2:2, “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.”
1 John 4:9-10, “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
We sometimes think because we have never murdered someone, committed adultery, embezzled funds, etc. that we more deserving of salvation than a Bin Laden. However, the truth is that not a one of us comes close in deserving the gracious saving work of God!
I challenge you to rethink your prayer life. Make your requests to God extend beyond yourself, your family and your friends. Instead of complaining all the time about the president and congress, spend time praying for them that not only will God direct them to make the right decisions but that God might save them. Many of the problems in our government would find resolution if more of our government leaders were genuinely saved! Instead cursing the like of Bin Laden, pray that God might get a hold of the hearts of his kind and save them. If that happened the threat would be lessened dramatically. Instead of seeing the Muslims as a threat why not pray that all efforts that God is using to try to reach them will be successful.