One of the most important ways we can show others love is by praying for them. At Love Church we know that prayer is not our last resort, but our first response. Prayer is an invitation to partner with God and pray that His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. We are called to pray in agreement with God’s Word which has authority over every situation we face.
If we face illness, we pray in agreement with God’s word that, “By his wounds you have been healed.” (I Peter 2:24) If we face financial lack, we pray in agreement with God’s word that, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19). Praying God’s Word aligns our heart with God’s will and positions us for His blessing.
As a nation we have experienced polarizing perspectives this past year. The divide has fractured communities and most grievously splintered believers and even families, creating an “us v. them” mentality in so many areas of life. We have instant access to everyone’s micro-opinions on social media and quickly decide if they are an “us” or “them”. We feel the need to quickly post our support or opposition to the crisis of the day and we’re reaping the fruit of untamed lips (and fingers) – a divided nation and divided hearts.
We have this in common: we are offended… we are fearful… we are in pain. What can we do about this? We can pray. We can gather up our offenses, fear, pain and bring them to Jesus. We can pour our heart out to God and search His word so we can align ourselves with His heart.
We have this in common: we are offended… we are fearful… we are in pain. What can we do about this? We can pray.
In a season where I was wrestling with a deep personal offense, I found it nearly impossible to forgive. I would choose forgiveness, but every time I had to interact with the person who had offended me, I knew in my heart I had not forgiven. In Matthew 5:44 Jesus gives us this command, “But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!” When I tried to pray for my “enemy” my tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth and I had no idea what to pray. Honestly, I wanted to pray disaster on them, but that is Old Testament and not what Jesus was talking about.
As I sought God’s help, I read this passage in 1 Peter 3:8-9 and felt the Holy Spirit give me some practical ways to pray. This approach softened my heart and allowed me to find release from the offense that gripped me and move into forgiveness step by step. I’m sharing it in the Amplified version because that is where I read it. I love how that translation of the Bible parenthetically expands the some of the meanings of the original language.
“Finally, all [of you] should be of one and the same mind (united in spirit), sympathizing [with one another], loving [each other] as brethren [of one household], compassionate and courteous (tenderhearted and humble). Never return evil for evil or insult for insult (scolding, tongue-lashing, berating), but on the contrary blessing [praying for their welfare, happiness, and protection, and truly pitying and loving them]. For know that to this you have been called, that you may yourselves inherit a blessing [from God–that you may obtain a blessing as heirs, bringing welfare and happiness and protection].” I Peter 3:8-9 AMP
We are called to pray for our “enemy’s” welfare, happiness and protection and then the promise is that we will experience God’s blessing bringing our own welfare, happiness and protection. What if we obeyed this Scripture and prayed for God’s blessing for those we most oppose and who most oppose us? What if we approached our enemy with tenderhearted sympathy instead of hardhearted wrath?
“For know that to this you have been called.” (I peter 3:9)
Peter finishes that thought by quoting Psalms 34. “For let him who wants to enjoy life and see good days [good–whether apparent or not] keep his tongue free from evil and his lips from guile (treachery, deceit). Let him turn away from wickedness and shun it, and let him do right. Let him search for peace (harmony; undisturbedness from fears, agitating passions, and moral conflicts) and seek it eagerly. [Do not merely desire peaceful relations with God, with your fellowmen, and with yourself, but pursue, go after them!]” I Peter 3:10-11 AMP
I share this today in prayerful expectation that as followers of Jesus we will lead the way in our home, church, community, and ultimately nation. That we will be united not in our experiences and offense, but in our love for one another because we have first been loved by God. Let’s guard our hearts, our lips and our fingertips. Let’s prayerfully pursue peace with God, our neighbors and ourselves.