“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” – Matthew 5:44
In the verse above, Jesus says something shocking: pray for those who persecute you. So many images come to mind when a person hears the word persecution. Some may imagine a Christian brother or sister being hung over a fire and slowly burned to death. Others may think of being treated unfairly because of race, religious or social status, and beliefs. Still others may sadly imagine being denied certain rights that fairly belong to them. To persecute someone means to harass or punish in a manner designed to injure, grieve, or afflict; specifically, to cause to suffer because of belief. This is the person Jesus asks us to pray for, just as He did for those who crucified Him and He asked the Father to, “forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Again, this cannot be done in our own effort. But since Jesus forgives, we can surrender our hearts and allow His forgiveness to first fill our hearts and then flow freely through us.
Perhaps before you even got to the end of this devotion, God laid someone on your heart that has caused you great harm and you may consider an enemy. Ask God to begin breaking your heart for him/her and help you pray for that person.