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  • Writer's pictureJoellen Kemper

Praying Under Persecution

“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”

-Matthew 5:44

Enemy. As a lover of peace, it is not a concept that I like to fixate upon. The sheer utterance conjures past images of bitterness, revenge, wallowing, and a seething, consuming fixation. I try not to stray into that territory because I know it’s easy to get lost once inside.

And yet, our Lord talked about having enemies, so I would be pretty naive to think that I could just disregard the reality of them.

But once in a blue moon, I am reminded. Particularly when someone challenges my idea of order but especially when someone challenges God’s. I think I am starting to understand separating their wrong notions from the value of their personhood- being a fellow image bearer of God. But man, the lines start to blur pretty fast.

I believe that is exactly why Christ made a point to command us to love our enemies and to, more specifically, pray for those who persecute us. By doing so, we have invested in them. By investing in them (continually, because if we follow this command then we probably pray more for them in a short period of time than even our dearest loved ones) their humanity remains intact in our mind, and our righteous indignation at their violation of God’s natural law doesn’t run away into the land of elevating ourselves to a position of an angry, tyrannical little god. And above even all of that, the truth is, ultimately, it is God who changes their closed hearts and minds, so prayer is the most powerful weapon we could ever wield. By honing in on prayer, we are ensuring we are being led by the Spirit and not by our own pride and sufferings.

May we rejoice at another reason to pray and another opportunity to see God’s powerful hand at work!

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