Perhaps last week’s blog, HOW Are You Praying FOR Your Enemies? (April 14, 2020), would have been better called WHY We Should Pray FOR Our Enemies. So today I will address some practical considerations for HOW to Pray FOR Your Enemies.
First, keep foremost in mind that Father wants our hearts to begin to align with His despite what you read in the Psalms. Remember, the Psalms are hymns of praise and prayers offered by fallible humans to their Creator. This is not to suggest there are errors in the Bible, but just as we do not take theological lessons from the historical books unless they are clearly elucidated elsewhere, we should be careful in drawing lessons from the Psalms when we are reading the pleas of hearts in distress. When did you hear a “worship song” based on Psalm 109:1-15?
Remember that we were once enemies of the cross, even if you accepted Jesus when you were three or four years old. Until you surrendered control of your life to Him, YOU were in charge of your life, and God help the one who interfered with YOUR plans! Many of us remained capricious followers of Jesus even after great spiritual experiences in our youth, unstable and fickle. While in a fit of pique we may agree with the Psalmist when he cries for Father to make our enemy’s “children wander about and beg, seeking food far from the ruins they inhabit” (Psalm 109:10), it is not Father’s heart to punish children for the sins of their dads (Ezekiel 18:19-20).
Second, however, prayer FOR an enemy does not mean asking Father to make his plans succeed! When someone intends evil it is our responsibility, as much as we are able, to resist such intentions. But we are not to hate the person who needs salvation.
When Jesus confronted Pharisees, Sadducees and Herodians and criticized them or humiliated them with His superior reasoning, it still came from a heart that was looking for what was best for them, as well as to prevent them from influencing the masses of people from following them. But when it came to one-on-one His heart went out to those who loved money (or anything else) more than Him or His righteousness (Mark 10:17-22). Like Father, he wanted His enemies to be saved (2 Peter 3:9). That is how you and I got into the Kingdom! Dare we deny someone else entry because we have made it!?
Third, we must be clear in our opposition to that which is opposed to godliness, but we must do so as gently as Jesus, who would not quarrel nor break someone who was bruised by life, nor snuff out one who had even a spark of hope in him (Isaiah 42:2-3; Matthew 12:19-20). “The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness” (2 Timothy 2:24).
The difficulty in “loving the sinner but hating the sin” is more easily understood if we realize how often we do this for ourselves. (See for more detail on this.) When we do something foolish or unrighteous, we make every kind of excuse possible until we finally fall at Jesus’ feet and ask for His mercy. This is because I sometimes “do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15). And my love for myself compels me to hate what I do, more so as I get to know Jesus better.
So when Jesus calls us to love our enemies as ourselves and pray for them, this is what He has in mind. We are to approach our prayers FOR our enemies recognizing that they were deceived and that continuation on the path they are on will lead to their eternal separation from the Lord of life; isolation where there is weeping, cruel loneliness that never ends, filled with longings that will never be satisfied, and outer darkness that lets in absolutely no light (Matthew 8:11-12). As you align your heart with His, you will find yourself looking into that abyss and thinking, “I would not wish that for my worst enemy!”
Now you are ready to reach out in love, even to your enemies. So ask Father to reveal Himself to your enemy. Ask Him to let them see clearly the results of the choices they are making. Ask Him to guide others or circumstances around them so they will experience what they need, and not suffer the anger we feel at them. Ask Him how you might be able to shed light into their darkness (and not heat 😤!). And prepare to keep on loving them even if they refuse your heart to help.
- So pray FOR the President that he will recognize his shortcomings and humbly ask for guidance when he needs it.
- So pray FOR Nancy Pelosi that she will come to understand how her disrespect only reflects her immaturity and inability.
- So pray FOR that Muslim neighbor with a burka and FOR her husband that they might come to knowledge of the Truth.
- So pray FOR the pro-abortionist who screams how lucky she is to have had an abortion so that she can now afford a fancy car and easy lifestyle.
- So pray FOR the neighbor who seems to enjoy harassing you.
- So pray FOR that ex-spouse that they will experience forgiveness and so forgive you.
- So pray FOR your son or daughter who has turned his/her back on the faith they were taught.
Some you may see transformed as you live out Christ’s life before them. Some you may be able to speak with, and influence, even in a small way, to consider their course. Some you will have to simply leave in Father’s hands, fearing for their end that they may not turn in time. But pray FOR them, that they will. That is HOW we should pray FOR our enemies.