Thursday, May 8, 2014

Praying Like Jesus: Praying for your enemies

Hebrews 5:7 "In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety."

So far in this study we have considered what it means to pray like Jesus in the following areas: 1. Priority and power of prayer
2. Prayer being fellowship with God 
3. Praying to make daily decisions.  

In today's devotional we look at one of the more difficult areas of prayer and life that Jesus masterfully models to us: praying for one's enemies.  Luke records by inspiration of the Holy Spirit in Luke 6:27-28 “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you." We find it easy to pray for loved ones and to pray for our fellow Christians - but what about the boss or that annoying co-worker or perhaps that family member whom you would rather avoid at the next family reunion? What is the typical ways we choose to deal with such people? Conventional wisdom would say to not think about them.  Yet there are times when our thoughts and emotions can do anything but think about how they have hurt us, or how they could hurt us again.  Others would suggest some level of revenge or perhaps a form of passive aggression, heaping guilt trip upon guilt trip on those that we truly cannot stand. 

Yet Jesus gives us the only method which is truly effective in dealing with hard-to-get-along type of people - praying for them.  When you and I pray for people and bring them before the throne of God, it is very difficult to retain hatred, animosity and bitterness toward them. Does it mean that in praying for that person that we will become friends? Maybe not. However in praying for that person we may be able to avoid being unfriendly and un-Christ-like.  Perhaps the greatest example we see in the Bible of praying for one's enemies is Jesus at the cross in Luke 23:33-34 "When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. 34 But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves."

Point of Application: I would encourage you and I to think about those people in our lives, both past and present, whom we could honestly place in the "enemy" category (or at least the "mild agitation" slot). As we pray for them, watch what changes to place inside of you in regards to your feelings towards that person.  Furthermore, watch what occurs when even if that person should continue to hurl insults at you, notice the change in your response.  Perhaps in praying for them you may find yourself choosing not to respond at all.  Perhaps too God could bring about a supernatural change in that person.  At the cross, a Roman Centurion confessed Jesus as the Son of God (Matthew 27:54) and a lowly thief confessed Him as the True King (Luke 23:42). Prayer can change things, people and us because of the God Who has ordained it for our benefit and Who chooses to work forth His will through it.  May you and I pray for those who despitefully use us and hurt us and pray like Jesus for our enemies.  

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