“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”
-Matthew 5:43-44 NIV
Well, that just happened. Like an activist judge, Jesus just up and changed the way we have to live! (Of course, Jesus is God so He can do that.) Conventional human wisdom says, “love those who are nice to you, and hate those who are not.” Followers of Jesus are to live differently. This is what sets us apart from the world around us. We are to love all people. Perhaps not their attitude or actions, but we love them as creatures created and loved by God. One of the ways this Christian love for our enemies is fostered and developed is through prayer. It is increasingly difficult to dislike someone for whom you are praying. Try it. Pray for your ex-spouse. Pray for your annoying neighbor. Pray for your immature, under-qualified boss. Prayer gives us occasion to consider what might be going on in the lives of those we “prefer less”. It causes us to imagine what challenges and hardships they might be facing, and what emotional wounds they may still be nursing. Pray for them and see how it changes both of you.