Scripture: Matthew 5:38-48
Key verse: (44) “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
Reflection: A few years ago a country song came out that makes me think of this passage in Matthew. The song follows a guy who hasn’t been to church in a while, and when he finally does go the preacher tells him to pray for his enemies. The rest of the song is a litany of this man’s prayers for his enemies. Sounds nice so far, right? Except the man prays for all sorts of bad things and accidents to happen to his enemies, I’m sure this was not what the preacher was thinking and definitely not what Jesus was thinking in this passage.
How then are we to pray for our enemies both sincerely and faithfully? How do we truly love and care for those who have harmed us or our loved ones in some way? This is no easy task, but prayer for our enemies, those we dislike, those who frustrate us, is a transformative task. If you are at a loss of words (or at least faithful words) for your enemies don’t worry, prayer doesn’t always have to be us going to God with a plan for God to execute, we don’t need to know exactly what we are asking for in prayer. Prayer can be a time of listening to God, and some of my favorite prayers are when I trust that when I don’t know what to say that the Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words (Romans 8:26). Maybe part of praying for our enemies is going before God as mediator, seeking reconciliation, seeking goodness and wholeness for all, hoping against hope that the world may be different than we can even imagine.
Prayer: Holy God, may you give us the boldness and strength to pray for our enemies. May you open our hearts to a world different than we can even imagine, where peace reigns and wholeness comes to all. And when we are without words, may we listen for your word of love and hope and trust in the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen.
Author: John Magnuson
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].
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