Matthew 5:44 NKJV “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,”
I’ve read that verse a dozen times and I knew what it meant, but it became a command to me personally from God about three years ago. I was working in a job for a boss who was very difficult to get along with. It seemed that no matter what I did, he never liked me and made work stressful for me. I began looking for a different job and praying. God’s answer was this verse. “Oh, do I have to?” I whined to the Lord. How could I pray for someone I could barely stand? But God’s word to me was undeniable.
I started out praying for him to make good decisions at work. That was all I could make myself pray for at the beginning. But gradually, I learned to pray sincerely for him as a person and not just a boss. Then an amazing thing happened. My attitude about him changed. Not so much towards him because I’d always tried to be polite and respectful but now I tried to speak nice about him to others.
I figured God would be proud of me now that I had done what He asked. However, I soon learned that He still wasn’t done teaching me that lesson. I became the foster parent of an infant girl and I took her to visit her mother. Over time, I got very attached and was angry about how the mother treated her. It was then that God whispered to me to pray for her. Specifically, to pray for her salvation.
“I can’t do that, God,” I argued. “If she gets saved and gets her life together, she’ll get the baby back.” But God was insistent and I knew that if I didn’t follow His command, I would regret it. And so I prayed for her. I didn’t really mean it at first, but He reminded me that He wasn’t willing for anyone to perish and I shouldn’t be either. I decided to just be obedient and let God take care of the rest.
At that point, I began to understand verse 45 which says, “that you may be sons of your Father in heaven”. A child wants to be like their father when they grow up. If we learn to pray for people we don’t like and those who mistreat us, our minds will be transformed to be more like God. We will see them as He sees them, with a heart that aches for their salvation. And our attitude will be active, not passive. Not only are we to pray for them, but we are to love them, bless them, do good to them. But it all starts with praying because that’s where our hearts are changed to be like our Father.