Pray for Those Who Persecute You!

 
One of the most difficult teachings of Jesus is found in the Sermon on the Mount where he commands his followers to “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”

Matthew 5: 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,[1]

I believe that it is our nature to recoil in anger and self-preservation to fight those who have been mean to us and to retaliate in full force. So, what is the point in praying for those who persecute you? First, prayer makes a difference. Prayer is a gift from God that enables us to connect with God. While God already knows what is going on, prayer is our vehicle to let God know where are heart is. Second, praying for those who persecute you is a way to level yourself and your feelings. Prayer has prevented many a person from going off into the deep end. Third, prayer is a means of taping into the power of God. Prayer changes things.

I cannot say that I have ever experienced persecution. My crucifixions have been figurative and not literal. What I have experienced is mean-spiritedness. I have met cruel people who went out of their way to throw salt in the wound and to pontificate in their ignorance. Yet, through it all, the Lord has continued be my strength, guide, and inspiration. I have never missed a night of sleep, the sweet savor of a meal, or the tender embrace of love. I believe this is so because of my faith in Jesus Christ.

I encourage you to love your enemies and to pray for those who persecute you.

Matthew 5: Love for Enemies

(Lk 6:27–28, 32–36)

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your en,emies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. [2]

 

Questions for Reflection:

  1. When have you felt persecuted?
  2. What are your thoughts about societies around the world where persecution exists because of ethnic, racial and religious differences?
  3. How do you feel a Christian can love their enemies and pray for those who persecute yet challenge persecution in a loving manner?

 

Prayer: Lord, grant me the strength to love my enemies and teach me to pray for those who would persecute me. Fill me with courage to fight hatred and bigotry and the love to work for freedom and justice for all. Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior I pray. Amen.

 

Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III

Photo by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III

Additional Prayers Photos and Meditations from Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III at https://nicholashoodiiiministries.wordpress.com/

More about the ministry, mission and publications of Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III at www.nicholashoodiiiministries.org

 

[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Mt 5:44). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[2] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Mt 5:43–48). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.