“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness—the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
And blessed are you, blessed are all of you, when people persecute you or denigrate you or despise you or tell lies about you on My account. But when this happens, rejoice. Be glad. Remember that God’s prophets have been persecuted in the past. And know that in heaven, you have a great reward.”(Matthew 5:10-12)
Often when we intentionally pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters a multitude of emotions can arise. While these emotions are natural and can convict us in our time of prayer, we should avoid the temptation to pity the persecuted or let anger overwhelm us considering their oppressors. In fact, Jesus told us to rejoice when we consider persecution. Those who are enduring persecution presently are in good company: For all the prophets and even Christ himself endured persecution.
And Christ told us to mind our attitudes towards those who oppose us and His Kingdom: “You have been taught to love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you this: love your enemies. Pray for those who torment you and persecute you— in so doing, you become children of your Father in heaven. He, after all, loves each of us—good and evil, kind and cruel. He causes the sun to rise and shine on evil and good alike. He causes the rain to water the fields of the righteous and the fields of the sinner.” (Matthew 5:43-45)
This is certainly a challenge, but it is our calling from Jesus, and what is best for ourselves, and everyone as we pray. It may seem counterintuitive to pray for the peace and prosperity of a nation or government that is persecuting our family, but that is what we are called to do. Both for the peace of our souls and for the betterment of all.
It is fitting to remember that “We’re not waging war against enemies of flesh and blood alone. No, this fight is against tyrants, against authorities, against supernatural powers and demon princes that slither in the darkness of this world, and against wicked spiritual armies that lurk about in heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12) As we pray we should remember who our true enemy is, Satan, and ask God to thwart his schemes and raise up the faithful to confront his assaults.
So as we pray today, lets remember, the victory is already won:
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39)
Father, let your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Jesus, teach us to love our enemies and pray for our persecutors
Holy Spirit, unite your Church as one.