Pray for those who persecute you.

Pray for our persecutors? How can we do that when they’re out to hurt us? But that’s what Jesus asks of us. So let’s look at some ways God might answer you when you pray for your enemies.

In response to your prayers, the Lord might help your “enemies” to face up to the wrong they have done, to repent, and change their ways. That’s what happened in today’s first reading. When the prophet Elijah uncovered King Ahab’s wrongdoing, Ahab seemed genuinely sorry for what he had done to his neighbor Naboth (1 Kings 21:27). At least in the short term, it had a profound effect on the king. Elijah’s example can encourage us to pray boldly that those who have harmed us would have a change of heart.

Perhaps God will inspire you to undo some of the harm your enemies have caused. You may be able to offer direct assistance to people in your community whose lives have been upended by their enemies. Think of refugees or victims of abuse or people who are economically disadvantaged. Many organizations are bringing practical help to people devastated by violence or aggression.

Sometimes as you pray, God will change your own attitudes toward those you formerly regarded as enemies. You might take another look at the person who hurt you and see how deeply he himself has been wounded. Or you could come to discern the good intention behind an action that wound up inflicting harm.

It’s good to remind yourself that God never gives up on any of his children. He longs to pour out his love and mercy even on your enemies. That means you can be an instrument of God’s love and mercy in your corner of the world! Whether or not you see any way to cooperate with God’s mercy directly, you can sincerely pray for your enemies and trust God to work for good in their lives. Because your love and your prayers do make a difference!

“Lord, soften my heart toward my ‘enemies.’ Teach me how to pray for your blessings upon them!”

1 Kings 21:17-29
Psalm 51:3-6, 11, 16
Matthew 5:43-48


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