How do we pray FOR someone evil or with whom we thoroughly disagree? This is an important corollary to Jesus’ command to love your enemies. Matthew 25:44 tells us this and to “pray for those who persecute you.” Now, don’t go all Pharisee on me and say, “It does not command me to pray for all my enemies, just those who persecute me!”
Let me summarize with a quote and then expand, so if you fully understand C.S.Lewis’ quote you can quit reading and do something more important.
“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” C.S.Lewis, The Weight of Glory
First, it is important to realize that person with whom you so thoroughly disagree is most likely deceived. He or she does not realize they are not acting in their own best interests. Like the phantoms in Lewis’ Great Divorce, there is something they want more than Heaven, not realizing Heaven would provide for them so much more than the meager trinkets to which they are clinging. “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:4)
These blinded individuals are to be pitied more than hated. “Evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2 Timothy 3:13) Once deceived, they encourage others to join in their destructive behavior (Proverbs 10:17), not realizing they are accumulating corruption and chains that bind them ever more tightly until one day they will have become so entangled there will not be any escape. Like adding one tiny strand to a rope, each occurrence of mischief entwines layer by layer until they simply are beyond hope, but it is never for us to make that determination while they are still in the land of the living.
Secondly, Father’s heart is to do what is best for them. That is right, the Creator loves your enemy and wants what is good for them! 2 Peter 3:9 affirms this in the New Testament as does Ezekiel 33:11 in the Old Testament. The whole Bible is Father’s love letter to a world that chose to ignore His simple direction in the Garden of Eden, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
His intention, His heart was to give us each and all the very best with very little restriction. But with Adam’s and Eve’s narrow and short-sighted choice, they brought disobedience, deception and death into the world. And without His loving provision there would not be any hope for any of us. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only born Son . . .” (John 3:16). Notice, NOT that He loved those who would choose to obey Him; not that He loved people of a certain geography or genetic line; not that He loved the ones who would learn to abide in Him. NO, He loved and loves the whole world!
- That includes the guy who raped a 16 year old girl the day before he shipped off to Vietnam and left scars in her life so she never learned how to develop good relationships with men.
- That includes the dad who, drunk again, hit his son so hard up the side of his head that he could no longer think straight in school and now has a hard time holding a job.
- That includes Dr. Levatino (https://www.abortionprocedures.com/about-dr-levatino/) as he performed 1,200+ abortions of babies at every stage of development.
- That includes a president who may be a misogynistic self-aggrandizing narcissist.
- That includes a Speaker of the House who may have so little respect for the Constitution or Office of the President that she would tear up his SOTU speech on national view like a child throwing a tantrum.
- That includes the idiot who drove 60mph up Nicholasville Road and killed a pedestrian.
- That includes the drug addict who has made a thousand choices that were foolish.
- That includes the pusher who sells him the drugs.
There is NO ONE excluded from the love that took Jesus to the cross. “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person — though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die — but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8)
- That includes me!! And yes, that includes YOU!
So now, thirdly, my problem is to align my heart with Jesus’ and pray FOR my enemies the way Jesus would pray for them. How would you pray for a coworker who spreads cruel information about you to prevent you from getting respect at work? How would you pray for a wayward son who refuses to have anything to do with following Jesus? How would you pray for a spouse who has walked away from faith and wounded you so deeply you do not know if you will ever recover?
Think of how Jesus prayed for his crucifiers while he was dying on the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) Some have said this is one of two prayers of Jesus to which Father said, “No.” But Father’s answer is not our concern here. What we need to examine is our hearts to see if we share Jesus’ desire for our enemies.
His Heart is broken for those you find too smelly, degraded or offensive to associate with. He loves your enemy and makes His expectation of us very clear: “If you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15)
So now, how will you pray FOR your enemy?