Praying for Our Enemies

“In prayer we go to our enemies, to stand at their side. We are with them, near them, for them before God. Jesus does not promise us that the enemy we love, we bless, to whom we do good, will not abuse and persecute us. They will do so. But even in doing so, they cannot harm and conquer us if we take this last step to them in intercessory prayer. Now we are taking up their neediness and poverty, their being guilty and lost, and interceding for them before God. We are doing for them in vicarious representative action what they cannot do for themselves. Every insult from our enemy will only bind us closer to God and to our enemy. Every persecution can only serve to bring the enemy closer to reconciliation with God, to make love more unconquerable.How does love become unconquerable? By never asking what the enemy is doing to it, and only asking what Jesus has done. Loving one’s enemies leads disciples to the way of the cross and into communion with the crucified one” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer).

Lately, it seems that there’s a pandemic of rage. People are angry all the time. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been tailgated in the past few days or how many hyper-aggressive drivers I’ve seen do stupid stuff to shave a few seconds off their commutes. You only need to spend a little time on social media to realize how little it takes to get people arguing and name-calling over trivial matters, much less the important topics of our day.

It can be very tempting to fight anger with anger, hate with hate. But that’s not the way of the Messiah. He said you answer anger with kindness and hate with love. The best way is through intercessory prayer. It brings us closer to the Jesus who prayed for His enemies while they were in the very act of crucifying Him.

Never before has there been so much divisiveness and so many issues that seem to create and us versus them atmosphere. The world will tell you to slander and shame those on the other side, but Jesus says to love them and pray for them. He says to be kind to them even when they are spiteful in return. This is not just what Jesus taught; this is how Jesus lived. And if the Spirit of Jesus is in us, this is how we can live as well.

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