Dear friends in Christ,
Some time ago, I was convicted by the teaching of Jesus we read in Matthew 5:43-45:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.”
I’ve never really been persecuted in a serious way, and I don’t think of myself as having enemies. But Jesus’ teaching made me reflect on who I was praying for. So I decided to open up my prayer list.
Every day, I say morning and evening prayer. Near the end of the daily office, there is a place to add our own intercessions to the prayers offered in the liturgy. I now pray and give thanks in four categories:
Most of the time, I had found myself praying for friends, for people I know or particularly care about. There’s nothing wrong with that! But I decided to add “enemies” to my prayer list. As I said, I don’t really have declared enemies, but I pray for people I don’t like, people I’m afraid of, and people who might wish me harm. My list includes regular people, politicians, and others.
A few weeks ago, I added “strangers” to my list. These are people I might have met on the street or in a shop, people whose names and stories I don’t really know, but who might need prayers. On cold nights, I pray for people who must sleep outside.
Lastly, over the last few months, I also realized I didn’t have a formal practice of offering thanks to God for the many blessings of this life. So I added this to my prayers. It’s already strengthened my life to remember twice each day all the ways that God has blessed me or blessed others in my sight.
No doubt my prayer list will continue to evolve over time. But I wanted to pass my current practice along, in case it’s helpful in your life of prayer. If you don’t have a daily prayer practice, it’s never too late to start. You can just think of one or more of the categories on my list and pray in the shower, on a walk, on your commute to work, or in a quiet moment of your day.
Let us pray.
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