Did He really say that? – Praying for enemies

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Matthew 5:43-44 ESV

Many of us (myself included) have been earnestly praying for the people of Ukraine during this last 6-8 months as we have seen the terrible suffering of her people. But the current media reports over the victories that Ukraine has been winning lately, also brings us face to face with a heart issue that Jesus addressed about our attitude towards our enemies. When I read of soldiers being wiped out or large numbers of casualties on the Russian side, it is too easy to fall into a celebratory mood, saying under our breath, “serves them right!” But we cannot call ourselves Christians forgetting the fact that our Lord Jesus commanded us to love our enemies and to pray for them.

You see, the people of Israel faced some very real, very evil enemies, like Pontius Pilate, who slaughtered a number of people from Galilee while they were going to the temple to worship. Then there was Herod, who had John the Baptist decapitated and Pharisees who were plotting some way to have Jesus killed. None of these guys would have been anywhere on my prayer list, and that is a shameful disobedience to Christ’s command. So, as the sunsets tonight and we start our prayers, we need to add some people to the list. There are poor young teenagers from Saint Petersburg and Moscow, and farmers from little villages in the Caucuses. They have chosen a different side in this war than we would have liked, but their lives are also precious to Jesus. He also chose to die on the cross for them, as He did for us, and for all of us, He cried out, “Father forgive them; for they know not what they are doing!”

9 thoughts on “Did He really say that? – Praying for enemies

  1. I agree entirely. Though I am glad Russia is losing this war, I am saddened by the loss of life. Lord have mercy on the young soldiers and the people of Russia who have been dragged into this war by a deluded leader.

    • You are so right. Part of the reason I am sharing is because I am seeing my own lack of obedience to pray as Jesus told us. It’s hard enough to remember to pray for family friends and neighbors, but enemies haven’t made our prayer list in a very long time.

  2. I often think of that. Even when Joshua met the Captain of the Lord of hosts and asked which side he was on the answer began with “Neither”, and God had asked them to take over the land and drive their enemies out.
    nothing is simple in life. There always seems to be deeper issues than what is seen on the surface, especially God’s ways and thoughts

    • I cannot even imagine the reality (on both sides of this war) of people who have lost loved ones and homes and communities. God’s Grace and forgiveness is the only hope for these dear oeople.

    • Oh, thanks for posting the links to these very interesting posts. I have heard the story of the WW2 guy Zamperini before and it really makes a perfect point. I am not saying I have all the answers, and the forgiveness I struggle to come to grips with is far different from our brothers and sisters in Pakistan, Nigeria or Ukraine. Each of us must come to grips with Christ’s commands and example of loving, praying for and forgiving enemies. Forgiveness is not His suggestion nor is loving one of many options. Forgiveness opens the door for Jesus to live in us today.

    • Yes we have been praying every night for Joni and Friends ministry to the disabled in Ukraine and I realized that I had not really prayed for the boys on the other side who are just as disabled by confusion and propaganda. Only God can make a difference.

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