April 9 I Friday
1 Samuel 13-14
“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” —Matthew 5:44
Some time after Pentecost, Peter and John saw a man who had been unable to walk since birth begging at one of the temple gates. When the man asked them for money, Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk” (Acts 3:6). The man was instantly healed, and the crowd’s amazement prompted Peter to preach the gospel. The priests and temple guards were disturbed by Peter’s message, so they had the two apostles imprisoned overnight. The next morning, the apostles were brought before the Sanhedrin, who demanded them to stop preaching in Jesus’s name, and were then released.
When Peter and John returned to the church to report what had happened, the church’s first response was to bring this threat before God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “You made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them” (Acts 4:24). They reminded themselves that God, the Creator of all, has all power and authority.
Next, the church recalled the events surrounding Christ’s crucifixion that did not catch God off guard. Jesus’s death and resurrection were part and parcel of God’s foreordained salvation plan. While sinful humanity raged against God, Jesus showed love even to those who were crucifying Him when He prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
The church prayed with this same Spirit of love for their enemies, saying, “Lord, consider their threats and enable Your servants to speak Your word with great boldness” (Acts 4:29). Often when we find ourselves in difficult circumstances, we pray either for ourselves or the threat to be removed, but the early church prayed no such prayer. They asked God for the enabling to go on proclaiming Jesus to the very people who were behind Jesus’s crucifixion and were now threatening them.
It seems totally backwards to love and pray for those who are persecuting us, but this inconceivable love is the heart of a transformed believer. This is the love that enables a mother to forgive her son’s murderer and a persecuted missionary to pray for the salvation of a national leader committed to exterminate Christianity. The Spirit changes our perspective from vengeance and self-preservation to a Christlike desire that none should perish. Like the early church, may our prayer also be for boldness and perseverance in the face of persecution so that we love our enemies in a way that captures their attention and draws them to Christ.
Prayer: Gracious Lord, it is an inconceivable love You place within me that enables me to pray for my enemies. Grant me boldness to proclaim and live out Your love in all circumstances. Thank You, Lord.