“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves” (Matthew 5:43-44 Message).
Ask any unbeliever unacquainted with the Bible to summarize the basic principles that Jesus taught and “love your enemies” is sure to make the short list. Everybody knows that this is something that Christ followers are supposed to do. And most of us feel like we do do it. That’s because we’ve reduced Jesus’ words to mean: tolerate your enemies, or ignore your enemies, or don’t do anything bad to your enemies. We respond to Jesus’ command with passivity.
But when we look at this command in its context, we see that Jesus will not settle for a passive response. He expects us to take action. What action? Let’s read it for ourselves: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28). Loving our enemies includes doing good to them, blessing them, and praying for them…including the guy who cut you off in traffic, the teacher who crushed your child’s self-esteem, the mechanic who “fixed” your brakes three times in the last week – and they still squeak, the politician who got elected on a platform that you oppose…and the list could go on. As soon as we redefine enemies as “those who get under our skin,” we have a lot more people to pray for. And every time that someone does something that really makes us angry the prayer-prompter bell ought to go off in or heads.
–Adapted from Prayer Coach by James L. Nicodem.
Loving Father, You have commanded us to love our enemies…even those who simply aggravate us and “get under our skin.” Help me to lovingly respond to these people in my life by praying for them. Give me Your grace to do what doesn’t always come naturally to me. Change my heart so that I can offer this powerful gift of love rather than getting angry or upset.
Praise God for his command to serve him faithfully with all your heart, considering what great things he has done for you (1 Sam. 12:24). Thank God for the greatest of all gifts, salvation in Jesus Christ (Jn. 3:16). Confess your lack of faith as you attempt to flee from God in the midst of trying circumstances (1 Kings 19). Commit yourself to growing in the knowledge and grace of God, giving him the glory (2 Pet. 3:18). Ask God to show you daily how your faith is a Fantastic Adventure In Trusting Him.
Pray that joy and gladness may be found throughout God’s kingdom, with thanksgiving and songs of gladness for God’s faithfulness to all generations (Isa. 51:11).
–Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend