2009-07-16 - Prayer Thoughts
Matt 5:43-45 "You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.' 44 "But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (NASB)
I have an serious question for you. Ever listen to yourself talk and not be impressed with what you hear? Has someone ever frustrated you to the point where you just threw up your hands and essentially said, "I've had it. I give up on that person! I can't take it any more."
I'll make it a little easier for you. I have.
There may be clearly supportable reasons for your frustration. It may be a parent or spouse who nags relentlessly. It may be your neighbor, a co-worker, your Mayor, your boss, your Congress or Parliament, or the leader of your nation. It may be illegal drug producers and distributors who attack our way of life by peddling their filth into our streets for their financial gain. It may be corporations that support pornography, lobbyists who use unethical means to influence a vote, or those who abuse children. The list could go on in an escalating crescendo of intolerable issues that demand, from a civil perspective, stronger and stronger responses. I can honestly and with some sadness say that my responses in my frustration have been far more hostile than the one in the first paragraph.
It is easy to want to turn your back on them and walk away in frustration or disgust - or worse. That's not what that passage above us says, is it? One thing it does not say is that those who break the law should not be punished. They should be put on trial and if convicted punished accordingly. It is easy to love your neighbor and hate your enemy. That is human nature. From the parent, spouse or boss who may persecute you, to the politician who does not represent your views, to the illegal drug maker, to the furthest end of the spectrum - they have one thing in common with us. Even if our indignation and anger are justified, the Father sent Jesus die for them too.
The thief who asked Jesus to forgive him as they hung on their crosses on Calvary entered Heaven forgiven as surely as anyone who accepts Jesus offer of forgiveness for repentance. The thief, by his own admission, deserved to be on that cross for his crimes. In that statement he seems to accept his punishment, and pleads for mercy to Christ. The passage above says that we should pray for these people who do everything from annoy us to make themselves our enemies. Gang members and leaders have been convicted of their need of a Savior kneeling in the streets of tough neighborhoods to ask Jesus to forgive them. There are those who, from our perspective, are calloused beyond reach. Ask yourself if anyone is beyond the reach of God.
Pray for God's will to be done in this person's life. Sometimes it is punishment that brings the realization to a person that they have done wrong. Other times it is the faithful prayers of Christians that opens a heart and mind to thinking about what comes after this mortal life, or the impact of the their decisions or actions on others. We discount the power of prayer because we do not appear to be doing something when we are asking God to move in our life or the life of someone else. What is more powerful?
Grace & Peace,
We know that it is His will that everyone should accept His gift of forgiveness eternal life. What does that mean? Admit that truth that you have fallen short and sinned (Rom 3:23, Rom 6:23). Believe that Jesus made a way for us to be forgiven if we will turn and walk with Him (1 Tim 2:5, Rom 5:8). Pray and ask for that forgiveness (John 1:12, Rom 10:9). Invite Jesus to come into your life and lead you in this new life.