Find blog posts at LoveAndGrace … tweets at Twitter. Comments welcomed. Please join us for Prayer and Questions at the end of the devotion. Why not forward this blog post to a relative, friend, or neighbor who might be blessed by it?
“But Jesus was saying, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.'” Luke 23:34 (NASB)
“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:44 (NIV)
THE LORD CALLS US TO PRAY FOR OTHERS.
Most of us find it very easy to pray for others … as long as it involves praying for our families and those closest to us.
Prayers abound to the heavenly throne for wives and husbands, sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, and the closest of our friends and neighbors.
The Bible also tells us to pray for those who are physically sick, mentally unbalanced, emotional distraught, and spiritually lost. We do that, too.
However, there’s more.
We’re also to pray for those we don’t like, and those who don’t like us. We’re even to pray for our government leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-2), both those we admire … and those we don’t.
Oh, yes, we are.
Remember that on two occasions David could have killed King Saul, who was trying to kill him, but he refused to kill Saul because Saul was “the Lord’s anointed” (1 Samuel 24:6; 26:9). While most of us never face life and death choices from our government, we do face many annoying circumstances.
The Bible is clear we are to offer prayer for our elected and appointed officials at all levels of government, regardless of whether we like them. (see Romans 13:1-2; 1 Peter 2:13-14)
It is very hard to extend God’s grace to those we despise.
RECENTLY, I TRIED PUTTING THOSE WORDS into practice by listing some political figures I find loathsome.
The commandment to pray for others is far wider than the political arena, but this, I figured, was a good place to start. God knew my list before I compiled it, so I just acknowledged to Him in prayer what He already knew was in my heart.
I gritted my teeth praying for the lowest of the low, but when I was done, I knew I had to keep doing it. God wants to change me; He wants to change my heart; and He does that through our prayers.
God tells us to pray for those officials’ health and safety, for their well-being, and most of all for their salvation. It is God’s grace that gives us the grace to care for others and desire their comfort.
In those moments, God is more likely to answer our prayers by changing our hearts than He is in changing the hearts of a rude government official or a politician who opposes our wishes, but we don’t know for sure.
He could be doing both. God’s timing is not our timing. Besides, our attention spans are short, so we drift away, while He remains present.
The Bible is clear that we must be diligent in lifting prayer for those God places in our paths. James, the half-brother of Jesus, said it this way in James 5:16b (NIV):
“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
THERE IS EARTHLY COMFORT, and there is heavenly comfort. We enjoy more or less earthly comfort at different times in our lives as well as in relation to others.
But the earthly comfort is transitory; the heavenly comfort is permanent.
The Bible says, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18 (BSB)
Or this, “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal.” Matthew 6:20 (CSB)
Jesus said we will experience many troubles in our lives, but God is our refuge (see John 16:33; Psalms 46:1). In Him, we find solace. He, and He alone, takes us through the storm.
We are to share that solace with others, both those we love and those we do not love, those we know intimately and those we’ve just heard about, those who directly impact our lives and those who impact us tangentially.
When we feel overwhelmed by it all, by the sheer vastness of prayer requests and the awesome responsibility of caring for the lives and souls of others, let us recall the encouraging words of the apostle Paul in Galatians 6:9a (ESV):
“Let us not grow weary of doing good.”
Our Heavenly and merciful Father, we confess that all too often we fail to consider the needs of those around us, especially of those we don’t know well or don’t like. Our Savior set the example for us when He prayed for those who drove the nails into his hands and feet. At this time, as our nation has elected a new government at federal, state, and local levels, we raise prayer for those elected — and those appointed — to carry out Your will. Soften our hearts, O Lord, when we resist Your command to pray for those we dislike and those who cause us harm. May Your will be done. In the mighty name of Jesus, we pray. AMEN
1. Has God placed someone in your life who needs your prayer support? Are you reluctant to offer that support because (a) it’s none of your business, (b) you feel inadequate to the challenge, (c) the person hasn’t asked?
2. Being serious in your self-appraisal, do you really believe God will listen to your prayer and grant your request, or do you think (a) God is too busy managing the universe, (b) you aren’t important enough (or good enough) for God to care about, (c) the person you should pray for is not a believer?
3. Whatever your answers to the above questions, can you take a moment and ask God to fix the problem you see: in your heart, in the other person’s life? Can you ask God to show you how much He cares for you?
Would you like us at LoveAndGrace to pray for you? Just send a prayer request via the Comments section.