Q. The Bible tells us to pray for our enemies. Please tell me how I can pray for someone for whom I have no trust or respect? When I try to pray, my words are flat, my heart is cold and my feelings go against everything in the prayer. God knows my heart. He knows that I am not sincere. What does God expect from a simple human? Please help me understand how I am to obey this difficult instruction from my Father.
A. In Matt. 5:44 Jesus said we should love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. But He didn’t say we have to pray for their success or ask the Lord to bless them.
If we believe their actions are contrary to God’s will we can ask the Lord to forgive them. We can pray that their eyes will be opened and their direction will be changed. If we don’t think they’re believers we can pray that the Holy Spirit will convict them of their sins and open their heart to the gospel.
These are some of the prayers we can offer that will express our love for our enemies without endorsing their actions toward us. And while we’re at it, we can pray that that the Lord will forgive us for any animosity we’re feeling toward them.
You’re right in saying the Lord knows our heart. But by praying for our enemies even when we don’t feel like it, we’re demonstrating our faithfulness to His word. This pleases Him, and when our ways are pleasing to the Lord, He makes even our enemies live at peace with us (Proverbs 16:7).
It’s also a good way for us to heal the hurt they’ve caused us, because when we make a “contrary-to-feelings” choice to pray for our enemies the Lord will begin aligning our feelings with our choice. After a time we’ll discover we’re at peace again, and we’ll realize that the Lord wanted us to pray for our enemies for our benefit as much as for theirs.
It’s one more way in which the Lord is working everything together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).