Q. I am struggling with an issue that has come up repeatedly on our message board recently. It arose again with the news of Ahmadinejad possibly taken ill. Some are posting prayer requests for him, some have prayed for his death, so you see the extremes. I find it impossible to pray for healing for men like him and Nasrallah, Kim Jung Il. I wonder if you can give me insights on just how far “pray for your enemies, bless them that curse you” goes for Christians.
A. I think that praying for our enemies, whether personal or national, means asking God to forgive them for their sins and to change their hearts toward Him. Jesus asked His Father to forgive the people who were crucifying Him (Luke 23:24), and as he was dying Stephen asked the Lord not to to hold those stoning him responsible for his death (Acts 7:60). The martyrs in the Colosseum gave thanks for the opportunity to publicly demonstrate their faith, and bore their oppressors no ill will. When one of God’s enemies provides a chance for you to glorify Him, that person has blessed you and there is nothing wrong with you asking the Lord to bless him or her back.
The Lord is more than capable of bringing judgment upon His enemies and doesn’t need our prayers for that. But it’s His desire that none would perish, (2 Peter 3:9) and for that much prayer is needed.