““But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” (Luke 6:26 ESV)
We have spoken mostly about how to pray, as well as praying in different contexts or groups (alone, in your marriage, in family, etc.). Now it is time for us to turn to an even harder topic: praying for your enemies.
It is pretty easy to pray for people you like or love. It is almost natural to intercede on behalf of people whom we care for. But praying for people we dislike or even hate, that is another matter altogether. When you hate someone, you wish ill to happen to them. You don’t want what’s best for them. You want them to get what they really deserve. In the same way, it’s pretty likely that there are those who dislike or hate you. They probably don’t want what’s best for you, just as you don’t for them.
This is both wrong and sinful. God desires that all be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, and His love is for the whole world, not just people who like him (John 3:16). Just as God’s love extends to all, our love should extend to all as well.
Saying “this is not easy” puts it pretty mildly. The whole point of hating someone is that you want nothing to do with them, or you want what is bad for them. You hate someone because they have hurt you, because your jealous of them, or for some other reason. Hatred is really the exact opposite of love in this case. It is what we do by nature, and have done so since Cain murdered Abel.
But God invites you to take a different path than the path you may take by nature. He invites you to become like Him, to love the loveless so that they might lovely be (to quote the hymn!). This will not come easily, because it goes against your nature. But there are several good reasons to do this:
- It is right. God loves you, even though you don’t deserve it. Because of God’s love for you, you are now free to love your neighbor, and that frankly begins by praying for them.
- Praying for your enemies frees you of their control. Hating someone is work. They are controlling your emotions, your reactions to them, and your entire disposition. They may not know they are doing this, but they are. By praying for them, you are handing over your hatred and their wellbeing over to God, where they both belong.
- Saying the words in prayer will help to change how you view your enemies. Prayer changes you, because God always answers prayer. If you pray that God would take away your hatred for this person, that is what God is going to do. It may not happen as quickly as you’d like, but it will happen.
So when you are struggling with what to do with that one person who makes you crazy, that one person whom you can’t stand (and you know who they are!), pray for them. God will hear. It will be good for them, and it will be even better for you.
+The Lord be with you+
￼ Pastor Todd Peperkorn
From the May 2010 Messiah’s Messenger