Jesus said to pray for your enemies (Matthew 5:44). I have a hard enough time making time to pray for my friends and family, so praying for my enemies has rarely made it high onto my priority list. I admit there was a certain sly satisfaction in knowing my prayers could heap piles of burning coals onto their heads (Proverbs 25:21-22). That’s more what I typically have in mind when I think about my enemies!
Still, Jesus said if we love Him, we will keep His commandments. He didn’t say some of His commandments. His words certainly imply we keep them all. Thus, you must learn to pray for your enemies, and I must learn to pray for mine.
One of the reasons I’ve traditionally struggled praying for my enemies was because I was praying for the wrong things. I didn’t want to pray for the success of my enemies, and certainly many times it would be wrong to pray in this way. We would never pray terrorist organizations like Isis succeed, for example. But enemies don’t have to be sinister. They could be coworkers, family members, or someone competing for the affections of the one we desire to pursue. Their success might mean discomfort or unhappiness for us, but it would not be inherently evil. Still, praying for the success of another at our own expense just feels wrong.
This is the trap I had often fallen into; I had let my wrong perspective of how to pray for my enemies keep me from praying for them at all. Praying for anyone, be they friend or foe, always revolves around furthering the Kingdom of God. Once again, we learn it’s not about us. We pray for others so God’s Kingdom may be glorified. It’s the only reason we should do anything and it certainly is the only reason for which we should be praying.
When you pray for your enemies, pray God will draw them closer to Himself. Ask Jesus to use you to reflect His love and grace so your enemy might be drawn to you. I am now developing the habit of looking at my schedule for the day and praying for each person with whom I’ll be meeting. I pray we will be favorably disposed towards one another, and that I will speak words of love, wisdom, and encouragement to them. I ask for discernment into what they are going through so I might better understand them and give them the grace God imparts to me every day.
When you pray for your enemies, amazing things happen. Conversations go smoother and confrontations fizzle. I can’t guarantee every difficult person in your life will suddenly become your closest confidant, but I can promise you the Spirit of God will do uncanny things in your relationships when you sincerely pray for your enemies. When you learn to pray for their spiritual rebirth, it changes your perspective of them. No longer are they the enemy but just another lost soul desperate for the love and salvation of Jesus. Suddenly, praying for them becomes easy and even something you desire to do. Pray for your enemies and see what God might do in your life as a result of your love and obedience to Him.