Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today- September 30, 2012
They repay me evil for good and leave my soul forlorn. Yet when they were ill, I put on sackcloth and humbled myself with fasting. When my prayers returned to me unanswered, I went about mourning as though for my friend or brother. I bowed my head in grief as though weeping for my mother. Psalm 35:12-14
There is a passionate prayer for our enemies. It rests in the recesses of our righteous soul. It is counterintuitive in our aggressive age of revenge and resentment. But it is intuitive for those who intercede indiscriminately to the Almighty on behalf of all people. As followers of Jesus, we do not have the right to only pray for those who love and support us. We are also called to crash the gates of heaven on behalf of those who bother us. People who do not pursue Christ, but who pursue us with malicious intent are intended to be on our prayer list. Our natural man wants to ignore those who ignore us, writing them off, but Christ commands us to inscribe their names on our hearts for prayer. And it is not an obligatory prayer that we get out of the way once and then move on. It is a persistent and passionate prayer for our enemies that Christ expects.
Jesus described well our attitude toward our enemies, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” (Matthew 5:43-44). Your enemy can be anyone who is against you and/or against God. You feel a persistent pushback from their personality. You have felt hostility towards each other and even malicious intent. They may have harmed you financially. Regardless of the degree of enmity, there is a relational disconnect and distrust. An enemy is not a favorite person of yours, and you do not enjoy their company. It may be your parent who seems to have zero interest in your affairs. They only contact you when they need something. It may be a spouse who has stacked layers of hurt into your relationship over the years and you can hardly stand to look at them. It may be a friend who has betrayed you. It may be a plaintiff in a lawsuit.
Regardless of whom we envision as our enemies, we are to pray for them and love them. Our prayers are to be full of passion and pleading on their behalf. We bombard the throne of grace asking God to pour out His mercy on their behalf. They may be blinded by unbelief and groping around life in graceless confusion. Our enemies need enlightenment from our eternal Savior, Jesus. We were once enemies of the cross outside of Christ’s care. We acted like we had it all together, when in reality we were poor and wretched souls lost in our sins. It is as through our fasting and prayers for those who are in the bondage of unbelief that God may choose to set them free. Passionate prayer persists.
Prayer is never in vain. If the one being prayed for is not blessed, certainly it blesses the one who intercedes on their behalf. Our prayer for our enemies changes us. It softens our hearts and speech with sympathy. It allows us to model our prayers after our master, Jesus, when He prayed, ”Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Passionate prayer for our enemies is as much about us, as them. It changes us both.
Taken from Reading #24 in the 90-day devotional book, “Seeking God in the Psalms”… http://bit.ly/bQHNIE
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