If you’re connected with me on social media, you’ve seen a couple of my posts about #MayThe4thBeWithYou today. It’s a nerdy holiday and I’m a nerdy guy. I like Star Wars, but today there’s something more important happening besides a bunch of Star Wars fans enjoying a good pun in order to celebrate some fun movies. Today is the national day of prayer here in the United States. It’s a day where Christians all around the country gather throughout the day for prayer services and often the focus is prayer for our government both local and national.
While this it is very biblical to pray for our government (1 Timothy 2:1-4), I think sometimes this call to pray for governmental leaders often overshadows a harder and more important call to prayer.
When is the last time that you prayed for your enemy? And I don’t mean that you prayed for their failure either. When have you genuinely prayed for someone you consider to be your enemy to be forgiven and receive mercy. That’s a difficult prayer to pray, but it is also a Biblical way to pray.
Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, “But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you” (Matt 5:44). He also prayed for the forgiveness of those who crucified him (Luke 23:34). Paul wrote that, “We bless those who curse us. We are patient with those who abuse us” (1 Co 4:12). Not only does the New Testament call us to love and bless our enemies, but the Old Testament suggests the same. Proverbs entreats us to, “If your enemies are hungry, give them food to eat. If they are thirsty, give them water to drink” (Pr 25:21). And the Law commanded God’s people to care for the animal of their enemies (Ex 23:4).
I could go on, but my point is a simple one. It’s great to pray for our nation. It’s something that has been drilled into me since I was a kid that we should pray for our nation and it’s leaders. We should want our nation to be successful and we want our leaders to be Godly, but we should also desire God’s grace for our enemies.
In a time when we are so divided and we can’t seem to pull it together, I believe that it’s extremely important that we pray for our enemies. It realigns our hearts with God. It challenges us to see the world a broken and in need of God’s mercy for all, not just the people like us or the people we like.
Paul reminds us in Colossians 1 that God sent Jesus reconcile everyone and everything to himself. Paul wrote, “This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions” (Col 1:21).
You were once God’s enemy, even if you grew up in the church like I did. If you were once God’s enemy, then you should be praying for those who are still his enemy. That they find the same grace and peace in Jesus that you did.
So I ask you today, join me in praying difficult prayers. Prayers not only for our churches, our communities, and our nation, but also for our enemies.