Many parts of the Gospels are challenging, and today’s Gospel (Matthew 5:43-48) can be particularly so. Jesus gives a command: “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). It is not a suggestion.
He says, “Pray for them,” not, “Think about them,” or even “Forgive them.” He commands us elsewhere to forgive them as well (see Matthew 6:14-15), but here He shows the necessity of taking a step further into mercy by actively praying for their souls.
This can be very hard to do.
Have you tried praying for someone who hurt you badly, or hurt someone you love very badly? It goes against what so often feels right in our hearts—it feels like the “right” thing (and is often the easier thing) to maintain ill-will toward that person, to hold onto the anger from the hurt they caused. It takes effort to work through our feelings and actively make the leap toward forgiveness and prayer. Mercy does not come easily—mercy requires effort.
He knows what happens when we pray for those who hurt us. The prayers may help that person—but more importantly, He knows that prayers for that person will change us.
I found this happening a few years ago as I prayed for a friend who had deeply betrayed me. I found that my heart was softening and that Christ was giving me the eyes to see this person the way He saw them. If we only persist in doing so, if we push past the temptation to hold onto the feelings of anger or sorrow, we step forward into this act of mercy and love.
Today, Christ commands us to love those we find difficult to love through prayer. I invite you to think of one soul you can pray for today and lift them to the Lord. Follow His command. He knows it is not easy, but He knows it is the way that change in our hearts can happen and the freedom found is what He desires for each one of us.Step forward into this act of mercy and love. // @emwilss Click To Tweet
Who will be your one person to pray for?
Thank you for being here.
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