My girls are off this week for fall break, so I’m taking the time to be with them. Today’s post has been recycled, so to speak, but it’s still new to this site. Just like Tuesday’s post, I originally wrote this one back in 2012 to be a guest post for a friend. I hope you enjoy it! And I’ll be back next week with all new posts.
Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. – Matthew 5:44
Three and a half years ago, the Holy Spirit challenged me with this scripture. Love your enemy. This is a difficult command, and when confronted with it, I could think of only one person––Anthony, the man who murdered my dad.
Jesus was calling me to love my enemy, and one of the only insights I had on how to do this was to pray. So, out of obedience, I began to pray. I prayed good for Anthony, though it was counterintuitive to all that was inside me. Honestly, I did not hate Anthony at this point, as I once did. Still, there were a lot of negative feelings associated with him. But I prayed nonetheless.
I prayed God would change him. I prayed God would heal him. I prayed God would bring him to complete repentance. And I even prayed Anthony would be transformed by the gospel to the extent that he would be motivated to live to the glory of God in prison, bringing many prisoners to know and serve our Lord Jesus Christ––it was a pipe-dream prayer, or so I thought.
I prayed these things, yet to be honest, I truly didn’t want good for him. It felt wrong, praying for Anthony––like I was betraying my dad––but I knew the ways of God are always right, regardless of our feelings. So, I continued to pray.
I began corresponding with Anthony, and we exchanged many letters as we moved toward forgiveness. And along the way, I was given the grace to forgive and heal. I was freed from my prison of anger and bitterness and was set on a new path proclaiming the glory of our Lord and what He can do through our obedience to His call.
Eight or nine months into my journey, I saw the first fruits of this difficult trial. Even then the trial wasn’t over, but it was then that I cried tears of awe and tears of joy as God began to show me how my prayers were impacting myself, Anthony, and many others.
Anthony’s heart was changing. He was once sorrowful, but not repentant, but then he came to repent before the Lord and now lives to the glory of God within the confines of his prison. At one point, Anthony spoke to his church about our journey. In a letter, he told me that when he shared, men were crying, and that “one guy stood up and said he’d lost his wife to another man… He said for the last few months he had decided when he got out he was going to kill the man. Now he’d decided to pray and forgive. Your testimony may have saved a life! How awesome is our God!”
Anthony told me about a revival service he helped with where over 20 inmates came forward to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior during the altar call, which was more than they’d ever seen.
And then there’s the “weight pile guy” who upon hearing what God has done with Anthony and I took the leap and gave his life to Christ, being baptized only a couple months ago.
Truly, there are no words for the work I have witnessed Jesus accomplish in my life. And there are so many more to tell, too many to list here. But today, what I’d lie you to know is that God answers prayers. So, from the bottom of my heart, I encourage each of you to pray. Pray like the dickens! Pray for the needs in your life. Pray for that impossible situation that just won’t seem to get better! Pray for those who are far from God! And please, no matter how difficult, begin to pray for your enemies!
We serve a mighty God. A God who can do ALL things. A God who desires to display His splendor through works that only He can do in each of our lives! So, pray. And then believe Jesus when He tells us “…with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26b).
I pray that the blessings of God pour out upon you as you begin to pray for the impossible.