A Hard Kind of Praying
Matthew 5:44,45. “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
1Timothy 2:1-4. “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
Luke 23:34. “But Jesus was saying, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’…”
This is the last thing our fallen flesh nature wants to do, to pray as Jesus prayed, and to pray as He commands us to pray. But picture for a moment the spectacle, the miracle - a multitude being led forth out of a very dark dungeon, a multitude who were once sworn enemies of our Lord and of His Church.
Yet He desires to save them because He knows their souls have been ensnared by the father of lies. The adversary common to them - which they serve - is also the common enemy to us who no longer serve him. Therefore, Christ commands us to pray for them, because the adversary of those we regard as our enemy is the adversary to us both!
This view can shed an entirely different light on our human foes, who are not actually - at least as far as our Lord is concerned - enemies, but human beings like ourselves in need of the Gospel and the experience of their Redemption, just as we are. They are people whose minds and bodies may yet be in abject servitude to the uttermost darkness.
Seldom is it easy to love and pray for those whom we see as the adversary because we comprehend them according to the flesh, rather than perceiving them as our Father in Heaven sees them - as His children for whom His Son died, still in a terrible captivity, awaiting the dawning that awakens them and calls them forth from “the grave” of spiritual death into the glorious liberty and Light of Christ.
Jesus went to the cross for them, just as He did for you and for me. What magnificent and perfect Love it was that looked down from that cross and prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
When we begin - by faith that ignores feelings and opinions - to pray as Jesus prayed, pretty soon we realize that it is difficult to hate anyone for whom we are praying. The Holy Spirit opens our eyes to see them with the eyes of Jesus! Our heart opens up to the horrible bondage they are in. They may have never known anything else! So to hate them is like hating someone who is dying of a terminal disease they were born with, for that it what it is spiritually.
Pretty soon our Father’s love is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit as we pray for those with whom we are at odds. We simply yearn for our brothers and sisters to also come home, with the all consuming love of the Father Who waits for them, just as He waited for the rest of us prodigals!
Thus we cannot allow disdain for anyone to stand in the way of our praying for them, whether personal or political. Prayer on their behalf is a way of resisting the devil who holds them in his prison, and that dark one desires to arouse feelings in us about the lost ones - feelings which we should reserve toward him who is our common foe!
In praying for our enemies and those who hate us, it is a way of extending our Father’s grace and forgiveness in Christ Jesus to them, as the body of Christ. We cannot afford not to do this… “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” “But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.” (Mark 11:26)
Praying for such as these is a co-participation in the work of Christ Himself, Who came to destroy the works of the evil one! (1John 3:8)
May the name of our Lord Jesus Christ be glorified now and forever! Amen.
References for your consideration on Luke 23:34