Pray for your enemies.
We say this all the time as Christians, and a lot of time it’s our way of saying, “I can’t stand them, so I’m going to say the right Christian thing so that I can keep talking bad about them in a seemingly Christian manner.”
I think that we also peg non-enemies as enemies, as well. Someone cuts us off? Pray for your enemies. Someone confronted you? Pray for your enemies. Someone stole your woman? Pray for your enemies.
And what if we really are true to what we are saying? That we really do pray for our enemies? What do we say? “Dear Lord, I pray for Betty Lou, that you can destroy her tomorrow. That you can expose her hypocrisy to those around her, and that people will start understanding her for who she really is.”
Wow. I have prayed that prayer.
But wait, the verse that we quote “pray for your enemies” says this:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48)
This verse says to treat our enemies the same way we treat our friends. Is that prayer loving our enemies? Do we pray that prayer for our friends? “Dear God, I pray for my best friend, that you can expose her ignorance and make people see all her flaws.” I don’t think that’s what I say when I pray for my best friends.
What is it going to look like then? “Lord, I pray for John. I pray that he can have a good day today. I pray that there will be people who surround him today with love. I pray for this situation that I know he is struggling with, that you can give him discernment. Lord, I pray that I can show him that I love him.”
That hurts, doesn’t it? Praying such a prayer for people we can’t stand?
But try it. I have lately. I realized that I wasn’t praying for my “enemies” like I should. And now I’m able to see some people in a different light. It’s humbling, and I hope that I can continue praying for my enemies and those who have really hurt me. And I hope that those I have hurt can pray for me in the same way.