For or Against
"But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you..." (Matthew 5:44)
When we drive by an abortion clinic, do we pray against the clinic and all it stands for, or do we pray for the abortionists? When we drive by an Adult Book store, or a Palm Reader, or a Massage Parlor, do we bind the forces of evil that control those operations, or do we pray for the salvation of the operators?
Have we asked ourselves which would close a sinful business faster, a court injunction, or the conversion of those responsible for the business? Do we really think God honors prayers incited by hatred for a person for whom Christ died?
Many of us are quick to jump in and do battle against something obviously evil, rather than pray for the people who commit the evil, under the influence of Satan.
Jesus gave us a specific directive to pray for those who persecute us. Persecution comes in many ways. Mostly for those of us in the free world, it comes indirectly. The upheaval in the Middle East, the deception of the current Russian move, the infiltration of communism in Central America and Mexico, are all indirect persecutions.
The amorality of the Supreme Court, the idiocy of Congress, the penetration of New Age into our school systems, are persecutions that affect us more directly.
All these things are anti-Christ. Each, in its own way, has an adverse effect upon the teaching of our Lord. But the message from our Lord is simply to pray for them, not against them.
Disciples must accept the Word of God as true. Romans 12:19-21 tells to leave room for the wrath of God. We are to demonstrate the love of our Lord by overcoming evil with good. This isn't comfortable. It is more expedient to retaliate, or to curse, or to call down the fires of heaven on the enemies of God.
We are like the disciples, James and John. When the Samaritans refused to receive Jesus, James and John asked permission to command fire to come down from heaven and consume the Samaritans. The answer Jesus gave is interesting:
But He turned and rebuked them, and said, "You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them." (Luke 9:55,56)
Is it possible we do not know what kind of spirit we are of when we pray against an enemy of God, rather than for that enemy? The Lord doesn't wish for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance(2 Peter 3:9). Jesus died for every person, no one was omitted from eligibility for salvation.
Jesus wants all to come to repentance. Imagine the impact upon this nation if all members of the Supreme Court, and all members of Congress were to become born again Christians! How would the conversion of the Arabs and the Jews in the Middle East impact the world? Disciples understand it is more profitable to pray for those caught in the clutches of Satan, than to pray against them.
Can we see it is better to pray:
for the child abuser, rather than against the abuse;
for the alcoholic, rather than against the alcohol;
for the addict, rather than against drugs;
for the drug pusher;
for the homosexual;
for the rapist;
for the murderer?
Can we see that the solution to all the evil in the world, is conversion through the acceptance of Jesus Christ? That praying against our enemies is against the will of God?
Nothing available to the human race can turn around the momentum of evil faster than conversion.
The converted murderer becomes filled with love;
The converted power monger loses interest in personal power;
The converted drug pusher risks his life to carry the Gospel into the drug scene.
Jesus tells us to love our enemies. That is impossible without the Holy Spirit. But we all received the Holy Spirit of God when we accepted Jesus! That means we have the ability to love our enemies as Jesus loved them. He died praying for them.
So did Stephen, because he was filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:54-60). One of Stephen's persecutors was Saul of Tarsus who, shortly thereafter, was converted and became the Apostle Paul. Stephen prayed for Paul, rather than against him. "The effective prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much." (James 5:16)
The powers of darkness are paralyzed by prayer. As soon as we open our mouths we activate God's power in the person or situation for which we pray. God's penetrating light interrupts the dark influence in that person or situation. We insert the sovereignty of God into that life or that problem. When we pray for, God responds immediately, because that is according to His Word; therefore, according to His will.
At first, this concept may seem radical or irrational, but that is all right, because prayer is not rational at all. Prayer is redemptive, and that is the whole idea. When we pray for someone, redemption of that person should be our motivation. We know that is in the will of God.
We should not dilute nor pervert what Jesus tells us about prayer. We should not try to make it rational. Jesus gives us supernatural revelation when He tells us to pray for our enemies. He teaches us the proper way to pour heaping coals upon their heads. Prayer is a mighty weapon if we use it according to instructions.
The best way to pray for, rather than against, is to keep our eyes upon God while we pray, not upon the person or thing for which we pray. When we contact the Almighty, we can expect almighty results. As we listen while we pray, we develop the ease of allowing the Holy Spirit to direct our words.
If we keep our own feelings out of it, we can be sure our negative emotions will not push our prayers in the wrong direction. As we submit ourselves to the nature of God, we understand how He wants us to pray about a thing. Under His direction, we stop praying against, and begin praying for.
Jesus is King!
P.S. What are you doing of eternal value?
Question for today: Do I pray against, or for?