In Luke 6:28, Jesus said, ”…bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” In the last post, we studied what Jesus said about loving our enemies. Now, we study His command to pray for them, too.
Sin Blocks Prayer
Think of someone who is considered your enemy. Maybe someone you really don’t like? Or someone who really doesn’t like you? Maybe someone who did a terrible wrong to you in the past and has never apologized to you or made things right? Now, thinking of that person, do you just sit down with bitterness in your heart and pray to God for them, even calling down God’s blessings upon them? If your heart is not right toward them, will God hear such a prayer? Not according to Psalm 66:17-18: “I cried out to Him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer.”
Surely this type of prayer for your enemy would be blocked if not prayed with love. God cannot be fooled; He knows what is in our hearts. So how would a Christian obey this teaching?
Spiritual Power to Pray for Those Who Persecute or Mistreat You
Like we have seen with other commands, if we try to do what Jesus said on our own strength and effort, using our natural abilities, we will fail miserably. It is only by God’s spiritual power that a person can be changed from within, by Christ within (Colossians 1:27), and given power to authentically pray for their enemies. The key is to pray for the resurrected Christ that lives in us to live through us, allowing God to change US (not our enemies) so that we, like Jesus, can love our enemies and authentically pray for them.
If you pray this, and mean it, God will do it. I know, because I have done this and it works! We just have to be willing to give up our need to be “right”; give up our desire to be “treated fairly”; let go of wanting to hear an apology or receive some other form of restitution for the past. YOU CANNOT CONTROL THAT AND IT IS PROBABLY NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. LET IT GO!!
Instead, let justice for the past be placed where it belongs: In God’s hands (Deuteronomy 32:35). Your role is to love your enemy. Period. As you do this, God will open your heart to be able to pray for them, in honesty and truth. We are always to be authentic and truthful when speaking and praying to God: “The Lord is near to all who call on (pray to) Him, to all who call on (pray to) Him in truth.” (Psalm 145:18)
Call to Action
For the next week, take the challenge to set aside 10 minutes every day to pray for your enemy. Go to a quiet place when you do this, so that you will not be disturbed. Be sure your prayers include the following:
- Affirm that Christ lives in you (Colossians 1:27)
- Acknowledge that the power of the resurrected Christ is in you
- Agree with God that this power changes YOU (not your enemy)
- Tell God you choose to forgive your enemy for the past, regardless of your feelings (remember that forgiveness is a CHOICE, not a FEELING)
- Tell God you are leaving what happened in the past in His hands
- Admit to God that you still have hurt, angry or bitter feelings, but you choose to reject them
- Ask for God’s Holy Spirit to remind you constantly that you reject those feelings and, in faith, you choose love instead
- Affirm that Christ in you loves your enemy, and since you have given Him Lordship of your life, His will be done
- Acknowledge to God that you do not deserve His love or forgiveness, just like your enemy does not deserve your forgiveness or love; however, you choose to agree with God that this is not about ‘deserving’ forgiveness, but about OBEDIENCE TO GOD
- Pray for your enemy’s general well being (or something more specific, if you know about it)
- Ask God’s Spirit to show you how you can bless your enemy this week with an outward gesture of kindness or love
- When prompted, DO IT!
More often than not, God uses prayer to change us, not other people or our circumstances. If you want to let go of your hate and love your enemy, only God can do it. The question is: Are you willing to let go and trust Him to do so?