Why We Ought to Pray for Our Enemies (Part 1)

[audio https://gospellightminute.buzzsprout.com/3192/218542-why-we-ought-to-pray-for-our-enemies-part-1.mp3]

Praying Through the Bible #113

TEXT: Matthew 5:43-47

In the year 1818, Tamatoe, the king of a tribe of one of the South Sea Islands, became a Christian. Some other members of his tribe became Christians as well. Soon thereafter, he discovered a plot among his fellow natives to capture him and the other converts and burn them to death. In response, he organized a band to attack the plotters. When he captured them, however, he set a feast before them. This unexpected kindness surprised the savages so much that they burned their idols and became Christians.

This king’s example is a picture of the kind of response a follower of Jesus Christ ought to have to his or her enemies. And, yes, you will have enemies, you will have haters, you will have people who just don’t like you for various and sundry reasons. But as a Christian, you are commanded to love them, to do good to them, and to pray for them.

We’ve just come off of another bruising election season, and some of you here in America may have negative feelings because the candidate or party you supported didn’t win. You may not like who is in control of the U.S. Senate or the House of Representatives. You may not like the new governor of your state. What does the Bible tell us to do for those who are our governmental leaders whether we agree with them or disagree with them? The Bible tells us that we ought to pray for them.

Today, as we move into our first New Testament passage on prayer in this Praying Through the Bible series, that is what we want to talk about — why we ought to pray for our enemies.

We ought to pray for our enemies because, by doing so, we honor God’s will above our desires. Jesus Christ points out the common human perspective when he says to his listeners, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy…” That is the normal human reaction to our enemies: we love those who love us and hate those who hate us. However, Jesus challenges us to live our lives differently. He says, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies…” This is completely in opposition to what we are predisposed to do.

In fact, a recent LifeWay survey found that only 37% of Americans pray for their enemies.

When we pray for our enemies, we are honoring God’s will and Jesus’ command. When we pray for our enemies, we are setting aside our fleshly, selfish desires. When we pray for our enemies, we have to set aside what comes naturally to us and, instead, follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

In the environment of Jesus’ day, there was a lot of hatred going around. Jews hated their Roman oppressors. The Romans hated the Jews who rebelled against their authority. The common people hated the religious leaders who burdened them with stringent rules. The Pharisees hated the Herodians. The Jews hated the Samaritans. And everybody hated the tax collectors. As one commentator said, “In such an atmosphere it was impossible for hatred to starve. It had plenty to feed on.”

However, when Jesus Christ comes on the scene, He calls on people to change the way they have always acted. He says, “No, don’t hate your enemies. Love them, bless them, do good to them, pray for them.” When we pray for our enemies, we show ourselves to be the children of our Father in Heaven who showers blessings even on people who don’t deserve it. When we pray for our enemies, we put God’s will above our own.

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