Should We Pray for Our Enemies?

If we ONLY pray for our enemies, and then hypocritically treat them with unkindness and disdain, our prayers won’t get through the ceiling…

praying

QUESTION:  Should we pray for our enemies?

ANSWER: This is an important question. Let’s study the
Scriptures together and see what the Bible says:

Not only should we pray, but we MUST pray for our enemies. Jesus – the ultimate authority (Mat. 28:18; Eph. 1:21; Phil. 2:9; Col. 2:10; 1 Pet. 3:22) said, “Love your
enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Mat. 5:44).

But notice that Jesus said we’re to do MORE than just pray for our enemies. He taught us to LOVE our enemies, BLESS our enemies, and DO GOOD to our enemies.  If they’re hungry, we’re to feed them; if they’re thirsty, we’re to give them a drink (cf. Rom. 12:14-21; Luke 10:25-37).

The Lord did not say that we are obligated to LIKE our enemies. He taught through Paul (John 16:13), “IF IT IS POSSIBLE, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Rom. 12:18). The noted theologian, Tom T. Hall,
wrote back in 1973:

I love little baby ducks, old pickup trucks
Slow-movin’ trains and rain
I love little country streams, sleep without dreams
Sunday school in May – and hay
And I love you, too
I love leaves in the wind, pictures of my friends
Birds of the world and squirrels
I love coffee in a cup, little fuzzy pups
Old TV shows – and snow
And I love you, too
I love honest, open smiles, kisses from a child
Tomatoes on the vine and onions
I love winners when they cry, losers when they try
Music when it’s good – and life
And I love you, too.

Much of our frustration with Jesus’ command about praying for our enemies may be a result of confusing “loving” and “liking.” It’s been my observation that people tend to, like Tom T., use the word “love” in a very broad and expansive way. They use it to describe their feelings for things like ducks, trucks and tomatoes, but when Jesus said, “love your enemies,” He wasn’t saying that we must have warm and affectionate emotions towards those who hurt and mistreat us. Rather, He was telling us to act in a certain way towards our enemies, regardless of how they behave (Mat. 5:45-48; 1 Cor. 13:4-7).

If we ONLY pray for our enemies, and then hypocritically treat them with unkindness and disdain, our prayers won’t get through the ceiling (Prov. 15:8; 29:9).

Jesus, by example, prayed for His enemies (Luke 23:34).

Jesus did not retaliate against His enemies. He could have summoned more than twelve legions of angels to prevent Calvary (Mat. 26:53), but He didn’t. He could have returned pain for pain against His enemies at the cross (1 Pet. 2:20-23; cf. Mat. 26:67-68; Mark 14:65; Luke 22:63-65), but He didn’t.

“God loves you and I love you and that’s the way it’s gonna be!” – Mike

What Does “Father in Heaven” Imply?

praying_teen

I WILL SPEAK for me.

I probably need to spend more time thinking about what I’m actually saying in my private prayers.

“Father in heaven…”

If I am not very careful, the phrase may constitute little more than a thoughtless, repetitive expression.

Strangely enough, I don’t talk to my earthly father that way, but I tend to do so with my heavenly Father.

Does He ever get weary of my redundancy?

What am I really saying when I articulate the words, “Father in heaven…”?

First, “Father” means I am a member of God’s family.

“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27).

Just as a suit which I put on envelops me and identifies my appearance, my immersion in water (Romans 6:3-4; cf. 1 Peter 3:20-21) was the culminating act of faith by which God added me to His spiritual household (1 Timothy 3:15) and identified me as His kin.

Second, “Father” means I am a recipient of God’s special provision.

“Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him” (Matthew 7:9-11)?

If I, as an earthly father, endeavor to meet the dietary needs and requests of my child, how much more (cf. Ephesians 3:20) will my heavenly Father accommodate the requirements (cf. Philippians 4:19James 1:17) of my life (cf. Psalm 37:25)?

Third, “Father” means I am the beneficiary of God’s loving discipline.

And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:

“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,
Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
For whom the Lord loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.” (Hebrews 12:5-6; cf. Proverbs 3:11-12).

Because God is my Father in heaven, He, on occasion disciplines me for my long term good (cf. Hebrews 12:9-11). He wields the rod (Psalm 89:32Proverbs 22:15) of pain and corrects me as an expression of His special relationship (Hebrews 12:8) with me.

“Father in heaven…”

The phrase ought to be more than some rote recital of words. It should be an indelible imprint on my heart–that I have a Father who…

  • takes me in as his own
  • gives me all that I need
  • chastens me to help me mature.

“God loves you and I love you and that’s the way it’s gonna be!”  –Mike