Editor's note: Join disciples around the world in January as we devote ourselves to prayer and action. Each day, Disciples Today will publish a devotional from 31 Days of Prayer by Daniel Berk. Follow along on Facebook with your comments and prayer requests. We look forward to an amazing year as we seek God together!
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children 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.” – Matthew 5:43-48 (NIV)
Who is your enemy? It may seem simple to identify some enemies around the world in organizations, hate groups, politicians. But if you’re like me—working a 9-to-5 job in corporate America—you may find it difficult to label anyone you see daily with that kind of severity. No one is persecuting me at work; I’m not engaged in any confrontation. But who are God’s enemies? Strong’s Greek Lexicon defines the Greek for enemy as “passively or actively hostile or opposing another” and “opposing (God) in the mind” (Strong’s G2190 – echthros). Do you know anyone who is passively opposing you or God?
Colossians 1:21 tells us that before our conversion, we were God’s enemies in our minds due to our evil behavior. At some point, we’ve all been the enemy. People we see every day are in that same spot right now. They’re at work, school, and home. They are coworkers, classmates, roommates, siblings, parents, and spouses. And Jesus tells us to pray for them…
…But not for their sake! Please don’t confuse what I’m saying here. God is working in every life to allow for seeking and finding him. However, Jesus’ command in Matthew 5 is to help YOU, “that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” Jesus is telling you to love your enemies and pray for those who passively or actively oppose you—for YOU.
Pray for those in your life who do not know God. Ask someone you see often (coworker, classmate, family member, roommate), “How can I pray for you this week?” Ask this of the person you’ve been afraid to talk about faith with. When you express genuine concern for someone, you might be surprised by the response. Take note of how God works in these relationships, and expect him to answer your prayers.