pray for them?!

Praying for family and friends is easy. When my children hurt, need a job or a new home, I pray for them. Likewise, when friends enter a difficult time, I pray for them.
I would like to say I naturally pray for all the people in my life, but I don’t – not the ones who hurt me or my loved ones. I don’t even want to think about praying for them – my enemies.
I avoid interacting with them. I shrug them out of my thoughts. I do not care what happens to them. I do not want not pray that God would intervene in their lives – I just want my enemies to go away – until I am reminded of Christ’s difficult command, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Matthew 5:44-45.
God provides for both the evil and good – and He wants me to be like His son and pray for these people who hurt my loved ones or me. During national wars my enemies are the very people who would do anything they could to destroy me, my way of life or my country. And God wants me to pray for them?
Sometimes, O wonder if God understand human nature. Humans don’t want to interceded for people who hurt them. We want God to rain down revenge on these folks – not to send them life-giving rain.
But that is not what Christ mandated when He walked the earth. He commanded His followers – including me – to pray for our enemies whether they be terrorists, politicians on the wrong side of the fence or obnoxious folks crossing our path.
I want to object, “God that is impossible.”
But this is not some ethereal hermit issuing philosophical statement about life. This is the Christ who healed the ear of one arresting him. This is the Christ whose enemies stood at the foot of His cross resulting in His death. And this is the Christ who turned His face towards Heaven and said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34.
Grudgingly, I try to obey, “Lord, God of the Universe, I don’t know how to obey you in this regard. I do not get it. But you told me to pray for these people who bring great hurt and pain into my life, You told me to love them and pray for them because that is how I reflect my kinship with you. Because you told me to do so, I pray for this enemy.”
Sometimes it is prayer for the soldiers and the suicide bombers preparing to attack our soldiers. I pray that they would know the One who mandated that we pray for them. I pray for comfort for their loved ones.
I pray for the people in that other political party. I pray for them because I want God’s peace to prevail and now that will only as we persist in prayer for every elected official can we hope to see that peace.
I pray for the individuals who leave a wake of pain behind them.
I pray, not because I want to do it, but because as a follower of Christ I must chose to go against my natural impulses and obey Him. I must pray for my enemies – those who hate my country, despise my political preferences, harm my loved ones and hurt me.
Christ did not say it would be easy, but He did say to do it.