Praying for the Enemy
“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matt. 5:44
Think about someone who hurt you. How did you love or pray for them? Or, did you? As a mother, I love and protect my children. When someone wounds them, my mama bear instinct roars. I want to peel back the fur and watch those razor-sharp claws swipe.
But emotional reactions like that don’t come from Jesus. They usually arise when we’re attempting to play God.
A few years ago, while driving home from a school event with one of my kids, I received an unexpected phone call from a classmate’s mother. She accused my daughter of bullying and made harsh statements about her. Unfortunately, my daughter sat in the passenger seat and well within earshot. My mama bear instinct stood ready to rip and roar, but I sucked in a breath and prayed silently, Help, God!
His truth guided me through that phone call. I recalled Jesus’ words about praying for those who persecute us, which includes mamas protecting their children. God’s guidance to be quick to listen and slow to anger (James 1:19) rushed to mind as well. I fought the urge to lash out, using patience, truth, and prayer to battle instead.
Afterward, I prayed for that mother and both children—myself, too. It wasn’t easy, but it was right. And God used those prayers to soften my heart.
The woman and I didn’t realize that both our children were facing difficulties adjusting at school. As new transfers the year before, they were still attempting to find their footing. What seemed a situation of “enemies” ended quite differently. Loving those with whom we clash or praying for people who persecute us feels awkward and hard. But God can be trusted, even when praying for our enemies.
Do you have an “enemy” or someone persecuting you or someone you care about? How can you love and pray for them today?
Kristi Woods, a podcaster and contributor to Wholly Loved Ministries devotional project, longs to see women transform from Sunday pew sitters to Monday through Sunday worshipers. Kristi, a writer and speaker, blogs regularly and offers faith-building tools for walking deeper with God at www.KristiWoods.net. She contributes monthly at iBelieve.com and Crosswalk.com and is published in various Chicken Soup for the Soul publications. Kristi, her husband, and their three children survived a nomadic, military lifestyle, and have set roots in Oklahoma. Connect with Kristi at KristiWoods.net.
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Originally published Tuesday, 04 February 2020.