PRAYING FOR OUR ENEMIES
By Kim Butts
"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 sons of your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:43-45a).
tell you who hear Me: 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).
love and pray for those who persecute or mistreat us mystifies unbelievers, and
yet this is the lifestyle to which we are called by God. We are to love all
people regardless of how they treat us. Although some may set themselves up as
enemies against us, they are people in need of a saving relationship with Jesus
and an understanding of His Lordship in their lives. The Word of God instructs
us to love them, praying that they might enter into His kingdom! Before
reading any further, bring someone to mind whom you would consider to be your
enemy. Have your family members do the same. Read, study, apply and pray the
truths from God’s Word that your enemies might be drawn to Jesus’ kingdom.
I created a special PDF list of these verses you can download for free at the end of this post.
Knowing Your True Enemy
states that our chief enemy is Satan. "For our struggle is not against flesh
and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers
of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly
realms" (Ephesians 6:12). Therefore, we should recognize that behind our
flesh and blood enemies ultimately Satan is at work.
Paul probably understood this concept more fully than any of the disciples or
other believers. At one time, he persecuted the followers of Jesus, even casting
his vote to have many put to death while he watched in approval. A case could
certainly be made that Paul considered all believers to be his enemies and vice
versa. But when God got Paul’s attention on the road to Damascus, which
ultimately led to his salvation through Jesus, he grasped for the first time,
the mercy of the Lord. He understood that the followers of Jesus were not his
enemies, as God gave him tremendous insight about his real enemy – Satan.
from being an enemy of God to a child of God through a personal encounter with
Jesus. He described the difference, from personal experience, to the Philippian
church: "For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with
tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is
destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame.
Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven"
It is also
important to remember that, like Paul, each of us was at one time an enemy of
God: "Since we now have been justified by His blood, how much more shall we
be saved from God’s wrath through Him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we
were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been
reconciled shall we be saved through His life? Not only is this so, but we also
rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received
reconciliation" (Romans 5:9-11). Because we have experienced the mercy of
God, should we not also extend it to others?
Examine your hearts as a family to
be sure that you are not allowing the devil to have a foothold in your lives
where you have acted against others in a manner unworthy of Christ. With
repentance and godly sorrow, ask for His forgiveness and seek the forgiveness of
those you may have damaged by your words or actions. We are either serving the
cause of Christ, or doing the work of the enemy of our souls.
there are people who have hurt or persecuted you or your family in some way. If
so, God calls you to forgive them. Pray that the Father will help you to see
these enemies through His eyes. Ask Him to give you a forgiving heart. It may
mean that you will need to go to someone to extend forgiveness so that your
relationship may be healed and restored.
Jesus Prayed for His Enemies
enemies…and they crucified Him. Yet, as we know, He had the ultimate victory in
the end. But because God loved the world so much that He sent Jesus to die, His
Son did not leave the earth without praying for those who were responsible for
His death. Jesus, who told us to love and pray for our enemies, demonstrated the
ultimate gift of love while hanging on the cross: "Father, forgive them, for
they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34a). Jesus prayed for His
enemies…how can we do less?
One of the
most amazing commands of Christ is to love our enemies. In our flesh, we
naturally want to retaliate or fight back when we are treated unkindly or
persecuted. Jesus preached forgiveness and mercy: "Be merciful, just as your
Father is merciful" (Luke 6:36). His lifestyle demonstrated grace, that ours
might also. He took His command one step further, adding another level of
difficulty: "Pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew 5:44b). May this
article give you a firm foundation upon which to train your children to love
their enemies so that they might be determined to pray for them to know Jesus as
Savior and Lord. Jude also spoke about the importance of mercy: "Be merciful
to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them…" (Jude 1:22).
Because of God’s mercy, we were saved. We must extend His mercy to those who are
still enemies of God, so that they might also receive what we have been given.
Overcome Evil with Good
repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of
everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with
everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for
it is written: ‘It is Mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the
contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him
something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do
not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:17-21). How
will the unsaved most likely come into God’s kingdom – through your revenge, or
by your loving acts and your prayer for them? This is an extremely important
concept to teach children, as their first response is often to hit back, think
up revenge, cease friendship, etc., rather than praying, continuing to be kind,
say unkind things to my husband that I would normally not say to him. Precious
man that he is, he always responds kindly to me and is never harsh. He doesn’t
try to get back at me or say something hurtful in response. What does this do in
me? It drives me to God in repentance and then to my husband to apologize! How
many arguments or hurtful situations in our families could be avoided by simply
responding kindly instead of fighting back – submitting to God instead of to our
natural human sinful flesh! It really works! I feel terrible for hurting my
husband’s feelings or lashing out at him because he is kind! If he responded
back to me in anger, I doubt I would feel very repentant. But because he
responds in love, it brings me back into right relationship with him, and with
How to Pray for Your Enemies
is the "God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as
though they were" (Romans 4:17b). Sometimes it is hard to imagine that our
enemies could ever turn away from evil and come to Christ, but He has called us
to pray for them. What seems impossible to us is possible with God (Mark 10:27).
What greater love could there be than to pray for God to draw them into His
kingdom? Remember the people you and each family member considered as enemies?
Here are some passages from Colossians that you can pray on their behalf:
• Pray that
God will rescue them from the dominion of darkness and bring them "into the
kingdom of the Son He [the Father] loves, in whom we have redemption, the
forgiveness of sins" (Colossians 1:13-14).
sight, without blemish and free from accusation" (Colossians 1:21-22).
• Pray God
will make known to them His glorious riches through the mystery of Christ
(Colossians 1:27). Pray that they may "know the mystery of God, namely
Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge"
• Pray that
they will "put to death whatever belongs to [their] earthly nature: sexual
immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry"
• Pray that
they will rid themselves of "anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy
language from [their] lips" (Colossians 3:8).
• Pray that
they will become one of God’s children, holy and dearly loved, clothed with
compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience (Colossians 3:12).
• Pray they
will come to know and possess the love of the Lord (Colossians 3:14).
• Pray that
they will come to know the peace of Christ and that it will rule in their hearts
As we mentioned above, click this button to get a free PDF download of these verses. Keep it in your Bible or somewhere handy where it can stimulate your prayersClick Here to Get Your Free PDF List Right Now!