Praying for our Enemies

“The practical problem about charity (in our prayers) is very hard work, isn’t it? When you pray for Hitler & Stalin, how do you actually teach yourself to make the prayer real? The two things that help me are (a) A continual grasp of the idea that one is only joining one’s feeble little voice to the perpetual intercession of Christ, who died for those very men (b) A recollection, as firm as one can make it, of all one’s own cruelty what might have blossomed, under different conditions, into something terrible. You and I are not, at bottom, so different from these ghastly creatures” (C.S. Lewis, Letters of C. S. Lewis).

That helps in praying for our enemies. In this day and age, the word enemy can mean so many different things. It could mean those in your life who make your life difficult. It could mean those across the political aisle from you, especially leaders and Presidents of the opposing party. It could mean those who in a very real sense intend to do you and your loved ones harm. It could also mean those who are just up to no good, like your Hitlers and Stalins.

The point is that when we pray for them, it’s not the strength of our praying ability or our faith that counts. It’s the power in the One to whom we direct our prayer. Jesus is the one who intercedes for us. Jesus is the one who died for us– and for the very ones we pray for.

Also, it helps to remember who we are and who we might be but for the grace of God. There is some good in the worst of us and some not so good in all of us. The Bible calls it a sin nature, and we all have it. We’re not as bad as we could be, and sometimes, the only things hindering us from doing bad are opportunity and the grace of God. If I’m honest, it’s a really good thing that God doesn’t grant me the desires of my heart all the time, because what I want isn’t always good for me.

Above all, it’s helpful to remember that no one is beyond the saving grace of God or is excluded from the love of God. No one. Even me. Even you.

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