In prayer we go to our enemies, to stand at their side. We are with them, near them, for them before God. Jesus does not promise us that the enemy we love, we bless, to whom we do good, will not abuse and persecute us. They will do so. But even in doing so, they cannot harm and conquer us if we take this last step to them in intercessory prayer.
Now we are taking up their neediness and poverty, their being guilty and lost, and interceding for them before God. We are doing for them in vicarious representative action what they cannot do for themselves. Every insult from our enemy will only bind us closer to God and to our enemy. Every persecution can only serve to bring the enemy closer to reconciliation with God, to make love more unconquerable.
How does love become unconquerable? By never asking what the enemy is doing to it, and only asking what Jesus has done. Loving one's enemies leads disciples to the way of the cross and into communion with the crucified one.
"Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." Matthew 5:44
Questions to Ponder
Why should we․in intercessory prayer․do for our enemies what they cannot do for themselves? What can't they do for themselves?
Where does one get the strength to love, bless, and do good to their enemies knowing that they will most likely be abused and persecuted in response?
Why would Bonhoeffer say that: "Loving one's enemies leads disciples to the way of the cross and into communion with the crucified one"?
In God, whose word I praise,
in the Lord, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I am not afraid.
What can a mere mortal do to me?
My vows to you I must perform, O God;
I will render thank offerings to you.
For you have delivered my soul from death,
and my feet from falling,
so that I may walk before God
in the light of life. Psalm 56:10-13
What emotions surface within you when you think of interceding on behalf of your enemies?
Does your community of faith actively seek to love, bless, and do good for enemies? If so, how? If not, how could you encourage the practice?
Name your enemies, picture them in your mind, "stand at their side" before God, pray for them.
Prayer for Today
Lord of peace and justice, let me not so much want victory over my enemies as true and mutual reconciliation with them.
40-Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Copyright © 2007 Augsburg Books, imprint of Augsburg Fortress.