Jesus Christ said, “It is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer.”

Why We Ought to Pray for Our Enemies, Part 1 (Praying Through the Bible #113)

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TEXT: Matthew 5:43-48

43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

In the year 1818, Tamatoe, the king of a tribe of one of the South Sea Islands, became a Christian. Some other members of his tribe became Christians as well. Soon thereafter, he discovered a plot among his fellow natives to capture him and the other converts and burn them to death. In response, he organized a band to attack the plotters. When he captured them, however, he set a feast before them. This unexpected kindness surprised the savages so much that they burned their idols and became Christians.

This king’s example is a picture of the kind of response a follower of Jesus Christ ought to have to his or her enemies. And, yes, you will have enemies, you will have haters, you will have people who just don’t like you for various and sundry reasons. But as a Christian, you are commanded to love them, to do good to them, and to pray for them.

We’ve just come off of another bruising election season, and some of you here in America may have negative feelings because the candidate or party you supported didn’t win. You may not like who is in control of the U.S. Senate or the House of Representatives. You may not like the new governor of your state. What does the Bible tell us to do for those who are our governmental leaders whether we agree with them or disagree with them? The Bible tells us that we ought to pray for them.

Today, as we move into our first New Testament passage on prayer in this Praying Through the Bible series, that is what we want to talk about — why we ought to pray for our enemies.

We ought to pray for our enemies because, by doing so, we honor God’s will above our desires. Jesus Christ points out the common human perspective when he says to his listeners, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy…” That is the normal human reaction to our enemies: we love those who love us and hate those who hate us. However, Jesus challenges us to live our lives differently. He says, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies…” This is completely in opposition to what we are predisposed to do.

In fact, a recent LifeWay survey found that only 37% of Americans pray for their enemies.

When we pray for our enemies, we are honoring God’s will and Jesus’ command. When we pray for our enemies, we are setting aside our fleshly, selfish desires. When we pray for our enemies, we have to set aside what comes naturally to us and, instead, follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

In the environment of Jesus’ day, there was a lot of hatred going around. Jews hated their Roman oppressors. The Romans hated the Jews who rebelled against their authority. The common people hated the religious leaders who burdened them with stringent rules. The Pharisees hated the Herodians. The Jews hated the Samaritans. And everybody hated the tax collectors. As one commentator said, “In such an atmosphere it was impossible for hatred to starve. It had plenty to feed on.”

However, when Jesus Christ comes on the scene, He calls on people to change the way they have always acted. He says, “No, don’t hate your enemies. Love them, bless them, do good to them, pray for them.” When we pray for our enemies, we show ourselves to be the children of our Father in Heaven who showers blessings even on people who don’t deserve it. When we pray for our enemies, we put God’s will above our own.

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Now, if you are with us today, and you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, your first prayer needs to be what we call the Sinner’s Prayer. Please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Please understand that because of your sins, you deserve eternal punishment in hell. Romans 6:23 says “the wages of sin is death…” This is both physical death and spiritual death in hell. That is the bad news.

The good news is found in John 3:16 which says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.

If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! I want to congratulate you on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door, by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”

God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.