Watching the news today, like many Christian Americans, I feel a sense of frustration. My heart hurts for the suffering going on across the world in Egypt and in Syria. The lives of innocent people, so many of them children, have been cut short by war. Like most wars, we have an opinion of who the “good guys” are and who the “bad guys” are. We stand in union (many of us with our very own churches) to pray for our brothers and sisters in the Middle East who suffer daily and who, even today, must run and hide from those who want to kill them for their faith in Jesus.
The thing is, we are supposed to pray not only for those who are suffering, but also for those who are inflicting the pain! We pray that the Holy Spirit will cause a wave of healing and that the hearts of each of those murderous individuals would be touched and changed. A total transformation that only can come from accepting Jesus as Lord.
How do we teach our kids to pray for our enemies?
(Romans 12:14) Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
We needn’t look across the world to find people who have caused us pain. Have you ever wondered why God allows people to come into our lives who are not easy to love? I mean, it certainly would be a lot easier to love like Jesus if we actually liked everyone. But, God knew that if it were up to us, we’d pick and choose who to love and who to hate. Yeah… if it were up to us…
(Matthew 5:43-48) You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Instead, God’s plan is to conform us into the image of Jesus, teaching us to LOVE OUR ENEMIES and PRAY for those who hurt us. It’s hard to do this. In fact it’s impossible to do this without the Holy Spirit taking the lead in our lives. But in praying for our enemies, we are able to show compassion and mercy where compassion and mercy would otherwise not be present. This action becomes a testimony of our faith, that our total protection and our total provision comes from one place… God! Our kids need to witness this action.
Think about it. If we don’t choose to love those who hate us, curse us, and yes…even attack and persecute us, what difference would there be between us and the non-Christian? Not very much. God’s transformation in us, to become more like Jesus, is hard to go through. It needs to be. Personally, I think it’s okay to show our kids how we struggle in our transformation of self. As they grow in their own ability to pray for others, they will have an example of what it means to pray for and love our enemies, as you have, and as Jesus has commanded.
(Luke 6:32-36) If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
Lisa Strnad is an independent contractor in Christian media as a writer, marketing consultant, and public relations specialist. She speaks to Christian women’s groups on the issues of motherhood, home schooling and raising a child with special needs. Lisa and her family make their home in Nashville.