Matthew 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”
No one likes to be attacked or opposed. We all want everyone to like us. Yet we all know that there are times when we find ourselves at odds with other people. Sometimes it may be our fault, and other times it may be theirs; yet regardless of the situation, the Bible tells us that we should always pray rather than retaliate.
For what should we pray when it comes to our enemies? Consider these three areas:
We Should Pray for Reconciliation
Many of us are familiar with the common expression that says – “It takes two to tango.” Obviously this is referring to more than dancing. There are two sides to every story and often times both parties are partly to blame.
Therefore, according to Matthew 18, whenever there is friction between two people, they should sit down and try to talk it out. According to vs. 15 of this passage, the primary goal of this meeting is to restore the relationship. Jesus tells us to love and pray for our enemies. I am sure that part of that prayer should be that the two of us will be able to discuss and work out our differences.
We Should Pray for Repentance
Often, in order for there to be reconciliation in a broken relationship, there needs to repentance. We read from the gospel of Luke – “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” (Luke 17:3-4) Repentance is a vital part of reconciliation; therefore, we should begin praying as soon as a problem occurs that the Spirit will begin convicting the guilty of their sin and helping them to repent.
We Should Pray for the Releasing of the Offense
There is also another very important part of reconciliation. It’s the principle of releasing the offense, or to put it in simpler terms – forgiveness.
Jesus told a parable in Matthew 18 of a man who wanted forgiveness, yet was unwilling to grant forgiveness.
Matthew 18:32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. 35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
If we have offended someone, we should pray that God will help them forgive us. If someone has offended us, we should pray that God will help us forgive them. The Apostle Paul tells us – “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)