“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you..”-Matthew 5:43-44
Wimbledon is underway and we have reached the round of 16. There are many headlines from this year’s tournament. The headlines that have stood out for me have been the ones about 15 year old American tennis player, Coco Gauff. Coco Gauff is ranked 313th in the world and is in the round of 16. I have watched her play during this tournament. I have been blown away by her composure, determination and of course by her excellent play. After Saturday’s match, I was listening to the commentators who casually mentioned that Coco prays for herself and her opponent before each match.
I had to stop what I was doing and replay in my mind what I just heard. I proceeded to post to my Twitter account. I do not care how saved you think you are but praying for someone who opposes you is not easy. If we are honest, we can say it is downright impossible. If you do not believe me, please a take mini inventory of your heart. You are going for a job interview and it is down to you and another candidate? Do you pray for the other person? You put in a bid for a new home and the seller is undecided between you and another person? Do you pray for the other person? When you get ready for a watch or participate in a game, do you pray for the opposing team? I could list countless examples but you get the point. Praying for someone who opposes you is not easy. Let’s take this a step further.
What about praying for an enemy? I am talking about someone who is opposed to you and the calling on your life. Jesus never suggested that we pray for our enemies. He commanded it. He not only said we have to pray for our enemies but he said we have to love our enemies. Luke 6: 27-28 says, “27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. ” So we are not only commanded to pray for our enemies but to love them. The suggestion is not for us to be a doormat to anyone who mistreats and opposes us. We need to stay humble and remember we were once enemies of God. We are now children of God.
When we lived lives of sin, we were opposed to God. We were his enemies but Jesus paid the price for our past, present and future sins. We can stand in the presence of God know that we are righteous or in right standing. Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Since we are in Jesus we cannot be condemned. There no exceptions. We cannot give away our salvation. When we remember that we were once enemies of God, this will remind us that we must obey Jesus by praying and loving our enemies.
The good news is that is it not up to us. The Holy Spirit is our helper. When we need to say prayers that our mind cannot comprehend, we must depend on the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:26-27 says, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God,[r] who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit[s] intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” I will be the first one to admit there have been, currently are and will be people who are difficult for me to pray for because I am a flawed human being. I depend on the Holy Spirit to help me pray for those I love and those who oppose me.
Here is some homework and please take your time doing this: Think of some people, places and things that you cannot even bring yourself to pray for? I am assigning this homework to myself also. We are not perfect and there is always room for improvement. Set aside some intentional time with God. Allow him to search your heart. Bring those people, places and things to God. Allow him to uncover and heal those hurts, disappointments and more so you can be blessed. Ask the Holy Spirit through your tears, anger, shame and more to help you pray for those people, places and things. Let’s take a lesson from Coco and pray for our opponents and enemies. Hebrews 12:14 says, “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.”