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How To Pray For My Enemies

All of us encounter people who act with hostility towards us. Some are not that hostile, while others are more hostile. Unbelievers face them, but it happens more if you are a Christian. You will find unbelievers who mock you and persecute you because of your faith. If you are in a country that is hostile to Christianity, they will even go to the extreme measure of executing, beating, or putting you in prison. However, Jesus said that when our enemies persecute us or do us evil, we are not to respond in retaliation, but with love. The Bible says that if we are in Christ, we are not of this world. Because we are not of this world, the world will hate us, for it hated Christ first. Jesus himself said that we would encounter tribulations in this world. However, we are to take heart because He has overcome the world. Sometimes, we meet unbelievers who act with hostility towards us, not as persecution of our faith, but because of their sinful nature. One example is that some fellow workmates may be jealous of you because you were excellent at your job and got promoted, and because of that, they spread false rumors about you and tried to destroy your reputation. The injustices that we experience are because of humanity’s sinfulness. However, Christ’s command remains that we are to love them and never avenge ourselves.

John 15:18-19

18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.

19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

John 16:33

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

James 1:2-4

2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;

3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

How do you deal with enemies according to the Bible?

As mentioned, Jesus tells us that we must love our enemies. We are to do good to those who hate us, bless those who curse us, and pray for those who abuse us. Jesus even takes it further by saying that when someone slaps us on one side of our cheek, we should offer our other cheek instead of raising a hand to defend ourselves. Also, if someone takes our tunic, we should further give our cloak. Retaliating and thinking “an eye for an eye” should never be in us as Christians. That is what makes Christians different from unbelievers. Unbelievers retaliate and only love those who love them. When we love our enemies and do good to those who have unjustly wronged us, great is our reward in heaven and God will be pleased with what we are doing. We Christians realize the mercy that we have received from God by sending His Son Jesus to die for our sins and making us alive from being dead in our trespasses. Knowing that, we cannot help but also show mercy to our enemies, for God showed us mercy when we were still His enemies in sin.

Luke 6:27-36

27 But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,

28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.

29 And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also.

30 Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.

31 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.

32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.

33 And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same.

34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.

35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.

36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.

Matthew 5:43-45

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.

Romans 5:8

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Ephesians 2:4-5

4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,

5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

The command to respond in love, grace, mercy, and good deeds towards our enemies is found in the Gospel and throughout the New Testament. In Romans 12, the apostle tells us to bless those who persecute us, instead of cursing them, arguing that doing good deeds towards them is like heaping burning coals on our enemies’ heads. 

Romans 12:14

Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.

Romans 12:20-21

20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.

21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

It is also important to note that the commandment to respond in love towards our enemies is not just taught in the context of unbelievers acting with hostility towards us. Bible verses teach us not to repay evil with evil and love our enemies in the church community as well. In other words, these enemies can also be people from the church—fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who have unjustly wronged us. Tensions, conflicts, and hurt can also happen in the church community. Whenever our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ hurt us and act with hostility towards us, we must still love them and bless them. The apostle Peter teaches us in 1 Peter 3:9 that we are not to repay evil with evil, but instead we are to bless them, through which we will obtain a blessing. We are to endure and bear with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who have wronged us. As the apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:7, love bears all things and endures all things. That is also why in 1 Peter 4:8, the apostle Peter teaches us that love covers a multitude of sins. No matter how painful and unjust the actions of others, we are not to act in anger. As God’s chosen ones, we will be compassionate, kind, humble, and patient towards those who have wronged us.

1 Corinthians 13:7

Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Colossians 3:12–13

12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;

13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

1 Thessalonians 5:15

See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.

1 Peter 3:9

Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing

1 Peter 4:8

And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.

1 peter 2:19

For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.

How do you pray for your enemies?

The way you pray for your enemies is the same way you pray for a friend. However, praying for unbelievers is different than praying for fellow believers who have hurt you. When you pray for your enemies who are unbelievers, you should pray for their well-being and concerns in life, but in the end, what you should pray for them is to encounter Christ, repent, and believe in the person and work of Christ. You can pray in person when you ask them if you can pray for them, or you can also pray for your enemy during your devotion time with God. The prayers you offer are prayers of blessing upon your enemy. It is also essential to have renewed minds. Having renewed minds is the work of the Holy Spirit in us as we read and meditate on God’s word. Only then can we discern and know what is acceptable and pleasing to God and then pray for those things. Here is an example of a prayer that you can offer for an unbelieving enemy:

Father of grace, You are the God who gives grace to both the righteous and the wicked. I pray for his well-being, and that You will protect him from sickness. Give him the grace to excel in his work and continue to provide for his needs. More than everything, I pray that he will get to encounter Your grace in Christ and that he shall repent and commit to following Christ. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Praying for fellow believers who have done you wrong is much the same. You bless them and pray for their concerns and well-being. The only difference is that you don’t pray for them to encounter Christ and believe the Gospel, since they are already Christians. However, what you can pray for is that the Holy Spirit will convict them of sin and that they shall continue to grow in sanctification and the likeness of Christ. Here is an example of a prayer you can pray for a believer who is acting with hostility towards you:

Heavenly Father, You were merciful to me by making me alive, despite my trespasses. I pray for [name of the person] that you will continue to sustain him and provide for his needs. I pray that he shall not lack in anything. Instead, there shall be an overflow of provision for him so that he can bless others. I pray that You will give him the grace to grow more in the likeness of Christ and that he shall continuously strive for holiness. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Romans 12:19

Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

1 Peter 2:19

For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.

All of these things can be hard for a Christian. That is why we will need God’s grace for us to do it. We can do this through Christ, who strengthens us. Also, the fact that God knows every hurt that we went through, heals our wounds, and is pleased with us loving our enemies is enough for us. Whatever injustices we have suffered at the hands of others, it is not our job to judge and avenge. It is God who will make everything right.