Friday, February 18, 2011

The Hardest Prayer

But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for He makes His sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
- Matthew 5:44-45
This is one of those tough teachings of Jesus: love your enemies. How can we do that? It's too hard! And if we could love our enemies, would they really still be our enemies? But Jesus immediately gives us the answer: pray for those who persecute you.

If we can bring ourselves to pray for someone who has hurt us, if we can ask God to bless them and speak to their heart, then we are showing them love. Because what greater gift could we give to someone than a relationship with God? Don't you have friends or family with a weak or non-existent faith? Don't you pray that they will come to know God and Jesus? And how happy would you feel if just one of them became a believer?

It is the same with our enemies. They cannot fully comprehend just how much they've hurt us until they accept Jesus and follow Him. So we should pray for them, and we should truly hope that their hearts will be changed, and we should be ready to welcome them if they are. None of this is easy. We may never forget what they did. But how much easier would it be to forgive them if they have repented of their sin and are now a brother or sister with you in Christ?

Remember, we are all sinners. But God loves all of us, regardless of our actions. He makes his sun rise on the bad and the good. And His Son rose for the bad and the good. If God loves all the sinners of the world, who are we to judge? No, it's not easy. But it's part of our calling as followers of Christ. And we have the Holy Spirit to give us strength.

Enemies can be as big and far away as an oppressive country or government. Or as close to home as your own family. So start small. Is there one person in your life who has caused you pain? Is your relationship with that person broken? Do you long to regain what you once had with them? Then pray for them. Pray for God to pour out His blessings on them. Pray that He will speak to their heart, and that they will hear Him. Pray for the strength to forgive them. Then, the next time you have the opportunity, reach out to them. Remember, God loves this person. You can too.

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