“I couldn’t do it.”
That’s what one church member told me after I asked everyone to pray for their enemies one Wednesday night. Thank God for the honesty of that church member. Truth be told, the first time I tried to pray for people who’ve hurt me deeply…..well, I couldn’t do it either.
Praying for our enemies, I believe, is one of the most powerful moments in the life of any believer. And Satan knows it – why else would it be so very difficult to do? “But I say to love your enemies,” Jesus told the crowd. “If you love those who love you what reward will you get?”
In his book, The Bait of Satan, author, John Bevere, wrote something that made me feel like I’d been hit in the chest with a sledge-hammer. He wrote,
“If Joseph had not forgiven his brothers for selling him into slavery as an adolescent boy – and subsequently causing him to spend years and years in slavery and in prison – if Joseph had not forgiven them and, instead as second in command of all Egypt decided to execute them, God would have let Joseph rot in prison.”
Why? Because one of Joseph’s brothers was a man named Judah. Why is that important? John, the apostle, answers that question in Revelation 5:5 – “Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed.” See where this is headed? Jesus, the Lion, would be a descendant of Judah. And there was no way the blood-line of the Messiah was going to be severed. So, clearly, loving and forgiving his enemies saved Joseph’s life.
Matthew, Mark, Luke & John, together, record seven of those brief, labored statements Christ uttered from the cross. This is a fascinating study, really. The first labored words of Christ from the cross are found in Luke’s account, 23:33-34: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” Here we find Jesus praying for His enemies – while they were laughing at Him and humiliating Him.
Think about it – when we pray for our enemies we find ourselves identifying with the very recorded prayers of Jesus Christ, Himself. Jesus prayed these words during His crucifixion. And we all know what followed the crucifixion – the resurrection! I believe that “resurrection power” follows this kind of praying.
Soli Deo Gloria, Nick