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!”

A Morning Prayer

In our Bible reading together we have recently been going through the life of the prophet Samuel and how he was instructed to anoint Saul as king over Israel. We encounter Saul as a nice young man full of hope and potential. How sad it is that once given high position and the blessings of God that he soon failed, broke Samuel’s heart and missed the path that God wanted him to walk.

Saul’s failure was that, while he was respectful and well liked, he never had a personal connection with God. He was always just trying his best to serve Samuel’s God. How different the heart of David, who longed to know and serve God long before he was called to be king. Watching over his father’s sheep while he was still a teenager, David prayed to really know God and learn the path God wanted him to walk. Sure David had plenty of his own failures but he never stopped longing to know and please God. These verses from Psalm 25 are often central to my own morning prayers. A few years back I wrote this song based on those verses and I pray the words and music may awaken your own hearts to really seek God and His ways today. Only He knows the path on which each of us are called to walk today!

Learning to Wait

And Calls us to His Side

"Oh, what’s the use?”
I ask God while I'm praying
Since you know the way
That things must be
Then in quiet I listen
For an answer from
The one who gave Himself for me

For once He prayed till sweat Flowed like blood drops
Through the night, with sorrows
He was tossed
Then He surrendered all that
He had wished for
Our lives to save
And for our sin’s full cost

And then as dawn
Had still not fully wakened
On the third day
Before the sun was bright
The tomb was opened
So we could see inside that
He is alive
And calls us to His side!

And Calls Us to His Side by Peter Caligiuri copyright 2022
All rights reserved

But as I rav'd and grew more fierce and wilde - At every word,
Me thoughts I heard one calling, Child! - And I reply'd, My Lord.
George Herbert - excerpt from The Collar