Jesus says in Mathew 5:44-46, “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others?”
This is a fairly well known passage of scripture, but I wonder how many people actually put this into practise?
It makes me think of the early Christians, who were persecuted beyond our comprehension, and yet many of them continued to pray for those who were oppressing them. One such example is Stephen. While being stoned to death, he cries out in Acts 7:60, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” During this time, one of the religious leaders, Saul approves of Stephens’ death and becomes one of the main instigators for the persecution of the early church. Saul then sets out to put more Christians in prison and have them murdered. While he is on the road to Damascus in Acts 9, Jesus appears to him and radically changes his life. His name is then changed to Paul, and he becomes one of the most influential leaders in Christian history.
I wonder who else followed Jesus’ command and prayed for Saul while he was persecuting them?
Now, I can’t find anywhere in the Bible that suggests that God needs us to pray, but I can find tonnes of scripture that tells us that he delights when we pray. He wants to include us in the miracles because he loves us, not because he needs us. For this reason the Holy Spirit often prompts us to pray for individuals or groups of people specifically. This then makes me wonder, who else had the privilege of praying for Saul and being part of his miracle? Whoever prayed for him was not mentioned in scripture because the story was about Jesus and Paul, not them.
Who are the “enemies” in your world that need prayer? Prayer is powerful, as it speaks into the spiritual realm and changes things. You may never get the credit when the miracle happens, but you will know that you were involved in the miracle that drastically altered that person’s life. Those whom you think are never going to change could potentially be the next Paul in your generation.