Pray for Enemies

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God says, “Pray for your enemies.” That is so hard to imagine doing that I had to ask the question, “How do you pray for your enemies?” I can pray that things will not go their way or that they will be taught a lesson, but that is not what God wants us to do. When I think of this question, the words of Matthew 5:44-48 Matthew 5:44-48 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which spitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love them which love you, what reward have you? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if you salute your brothers only, what do you more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48 Be you therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
American King James Version×
come to mind. In these verses, Jesus was telling all those who followed Him that, no matter what our enemies do to us, we must show love. I read this and it’s hard to accept because, as a human, I don’t want to be kind to someone who has just made sure that I lost my job by spreading lies about me or destroyed a personal belonging. And if you think for a moment that you have no enemies, let’s face facts. If we follow God’s way of life, then that gives us enemies by default. We have come in contact with someone who has disagreed and tried to make our life difficult because of our choice to be godly instead of worldly.

There are a few verses in the Bible that explain to us how to treat our enemies. For example, Exodus 23:4-5 Exodus 23:4-5 4 If you meet your enemy’s ox or his ass going astray, you shall surely bring it back to him again. 5 If you see the ass of him that hates you lying under his burden, and would forbear to help him, you shall surely help with him.
American King James Version×
explains that if you see your enemy’s stock animal in need of help or rescue, then we are to go and give help. As much as we might like to leave that animal to possible injury or demise, which in turn could possibly teach our enemies a lesson, God says that is not how His people act. This also leads to the well-known verse or saying, “Treat people as you want to be treated” (Luke 6:31 Luke 6:31And as you would that men should do to you, do you also to them likewise.
American King James Version×
). A great way to look at the situation is that if you (or your animal) were in need of help, you would want help even if it came from your enemy.

So what do we do if, for instance, a neighbor insists on playing loud bass-filled music every day? It is so loud that it rattles your windows. You have asked them to stop and they refuse. How do you pray from them? Do you pray that their stereo will break? Do you pray that someone will invent a directional EMP (Electro Magnetic Pulse) blast gun that will render all electronic devices useless in their vehicle? Do you pray that they will be arrested and jailed, getting their just desserts? Unsatisfactory to your human nature, that is not the approach that God expects to take. When doing Bible study on this very topic, I rediscovered the prayer outline that Jesus Christ gave to us in Matthew 6:9-13 Matthew 6:9-13 9 After this manner therefore pray you: Our Father which are in heaven, Hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come, Your will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For your is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
American King James Version×
. It starts out with us giving glory and honor to our Father in heaven and praying for His work to be done.

The first thing that leaped out at me was praying for the kingdom to come. When the kingdom comes, the great benefits that will be given to us from God will benefit all (even our enemies), so this is an easy place to start in praying for our enemies. But it was not until I go to the 11th verse that I started to understand how to pray for them. “Give us this day our daily bread.” As humans, except in extraordinary circumstances, we need food daily to survive. When we pray for their daily bread, we pray that they have enough food to eat and to feed their household. It’s a simple but important prayer. We should not want them to die or suffer, praying instead that their basic needs will be met, so that they may live safely is a great start.

Next, we move on to the next line in the prayer outline, “And forgive us our debts” (Matthew 6:12 Matthew 6:12And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
American King James Version×
). In this line we are asking God to forgive us for our sinful debts. Every person in this world has not only sinful debt but also debts in money or with people. At the same time we are asking God to forgive us, we must ask also on behalf of our enemies. The verse continues, “As we forgive our debtors.” Enemies can at time be indebted to us by some means, so if God forgives us then we should forgive our enemies.

“And don’t lead us into temptation” Not only does this apply to us not being led into temptation that leads to sin, but it can also apply to us not being led into the carnal way that people deal with their enemies. Revenge is said to be best served cold, but in the life of a member of God’s family it is never on the menu. People plot, and finds ways to make their enemies suffer for what was done to them, but God says in Hebrews 10:30 Hebrews 10:30For we know him that has said, Vengeance belongs to me, I will recompense, said the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.
American King James Version×
that He will have revenge on those who have committed sin and do not repent. We should also pray that our enemies do not themselves fall in to the temptation of sin. Since the root cause of animosity among people is sins which negatively impact one another, we can pray that others be kept from sin as well.

The verse continues: “But deliver us from the evil one.” Satan is our ultimate enemy and he will fall one day. He was the one who influenced other angels to become enemies of God, and he is our constant accuser and meddler in our lives. Our ultimate goal in life needs to be to learn, grow and mature into sons and daughters in God’s kingdom. Those who set themselves against God’s way of life will, if they never repent, not make it to the kingdom. Praying for our enemies to be delivered from Satan’s grasp is the godly thing to do.

Even Jesus, at the most trying time of His human life prayed this: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34 Luke 23:34Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.
American King James Version×
). Most of the time, enemies don’t know what they are doing is wrong. Our world is so flooded with Satan’s influence that, as a child grows, it is taught Satan’s way of life, and not God’s. As God’s people, the best way that we can help people learn what is right is by our actions. Knowing that they are missing the point, but then acting as badly as they do, does no one any good. It is difficult to pray for those who hate us, or to do good to those who despitefully use us, but if we go the (albeit difficult) extra mile, we might be helping them to seek into the kingdom as well. People sometimes make our lives hard, or very uncomfortable, but we should remember that, before we came to understand God’s truth, we may have been someone’s enemy and they prayed for us.

For more on how to live a more Christian life, request the free study aid, “ Making Life Work “.God says, “Pray for your enemies.” That is so hard to imagine doing that I had to ask the question, “How do you pray for your enemies?” I can pray that things will not go their way or that they will be taught a lesson, but that is not what God wants us to do. When I think of this question, the words of Matthew 5:44-48 Matthew 5:44-48 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which spitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love them which love you, what reward have you? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if you salute your brothers only, what do you more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48 Be you therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
American King James Version×
come to mind. In these verses, Jesus was telling all those who followed Him that, no matter what our enemies do to us, we must show love. I read this and it’s hard to accept because, as a human, I don’t want to be kind to someone who has just made sure that I lost my job by spreading lies about me or destroyed a personal belonging. And if you think for a moment that you have no enemies, let’s face facts. If we follow God’s way of life, then that gives us enemies by default. We have come in contact with someone who has disagreed and tried to make our life difficult because of our choice to be godly instead of worldly.

There are a few verses in the Bible that explain to us how to treat our enemies. For example, Exodus 23:4-5 Exodus 23:4-5 4 If you meet your enemy’s ox or his ass going astray, you shall surely bring it back to him again. 5 If you see the ass of him that hates you lying under his burden, and would forbear to help him, you shall surely help with him.
American King James Version×
explains that if you see your enemy’s stock animal in need of help or rescue, then we are to go and give help. As much as we might like to leave that animal to possible injury or demise, which in turn could possibly teach our enemies a lesson, God says that is not how His people act. This also leads to the well-known verse or saying, “Treat people as you want to be treated” (Luke 6:31 Luke 6:31And as you would that men should do to you, do you also to them likewise.
American King James Version×
). A great way to look at the situation is that if you (or your animal) were in need of help, you would want help even if it came from your enemy.

So what do we do if, for instance, a neighbor insists on playing loud bass-filled music every day? It is so loud that it rattles your windows. You have asked them to stop and they refuse. How do you pray from them? Do you pray that their stereo will break? Do you pray that someone will invent a directional EMP (Electro Magnetic Pulse) blast gun that will render all electronic devices useless in their vehicle? Do you pray that they will be arrested and jailed, getting their just desserts? Unsatisfactory to your human nature, that is not the approach that God expects to take. When doing Bible study on this very topic, I rediscovered the prayer outline that Jesus Christ gave to us in Matthew 6:9-13 Matthew 6:9-13 9 After this manner therefore pray you: Our Father which are in heaven, Hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come, Your will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For your is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
American King James Version×
. It starts out with us giving glory and honor to our Father in heaven and praying for His work to be done.

The first thing that leaped out at me was praying for the kingdom to come. When the kingdom comes, the great benefits that will be given to us from God will benefit all (even our enemies), so this is an easy place to start in praying for our enemies. But it was not until I go to the 11 th verse that I started to understand how to pray for them. “Give us this day our daily bread.” As humans, except in extraordinary circumstances, we need food daily to survive. When we pray for their daily bread, we pray that they have enough food to eat and to feed their household. It’s a simple but important prayer. We should not want them to die or suffer, praying instead that their basic needs will be met, so that they may live safely is a great start.

Next, we move on to the next line in the prayer outline, “And forgive us our debts” (verse 12). In this line we are asking God to forgive us for our sinful debts. Every person in this world has not only sinful debt but also debts in money or with people. At the same time we are asking God to forgive us, we must ask also on behalf of our enemies. The verse continues, “As we forgive our debtors.” Enemies can at time be indebted to us by some means, so if God forgives us then we should forgive our enemies.

“And don’t lead us into temptation” Not only does this apply to us not being led into temptation that leads to sin, but it can also apply to us not being led into the carnal way that people deal with their enemies. Revenge is said to be best served cold, but in the life of a member of God’s family it is never on the menu. People plot, and finds ways to make their enemies suffer for what was done to them, but God says in Hebrews 10:30 Hebrews 10:30For we know him that has said, Vengeance belongs to me, I will recompense, said the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.
American King James Version×
that He will have revenge on those who have committed sin and do not repent. We should also pray that our enemies do not themselves fall in to the temptation of sin. Since the root cause of animosity among people is sins which negatively impact one another, we can pray that others be kept from sin as well.

The verse continues: “But deliver us from the evil one.” Satan is our ultimate enemy and he will fall one day. He was the one who influenced other angels to become enemies of God, and he is our constant accuser and meddler in our lives. Our ultimate goal in life needs to be to learn, grow and mature into sons and daughters in God’s kingdom. Those who set themselves against God’s way of life will, if they never repent, not make it to the kingdom. Praying for our enemies to be delivered from Satan’s grasp is the godly thing to do.

Even Jesus, at the most trying time of His human life prayed this: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34 Luke 23:34Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.
American King James Version×
). Most of the time, enemies don’t know what they are doing is wrong. Our world is so flooded with Satan’s influence that, as a child grows, it is taught Satan’s way of life, and not God’s. As God’s people, the best way that we can help people learn what is right is by our actions. Knowing that they are missing the point, but then acting as badly as they do, does no one any good. It is difficult to pray for those who hate us, or to do good to those who despitefully use us, but if we go the (albeit difficult) extra mile, we might be helping them to seek into the kingdom as well. People sometimes make our lives hard, or very uncomfortable, but we should remember that, before we came to understand God’s truth, we may have been someone’s enemy and they prayed for us.

For more on how to live a more Christian life, request the free study aid, “ Making Life Work “.