Praying for our enemies

Tim Ponzani

COO, Converge & Regional President, Converge Northeast

  • Discipleship & spiritual formation

Many of us are familiar with the story of Jonah. God calls Jonah to go to Nineveh, but he proceeds to go the opposite direction, essentially trying to flee from God. He ends up on a ship in the middle of a storm, gets tossed overboard and is swallowed by a big fish. Jonah calls out to God in his distress, God hears and causes the fish to eject Jonah on dry land.  

God calls Jonah a second time to go to Nineveh. Jonah obeys and declares the word of the Lord to the Ninevites, and they listen! Upon seeing their repentance, God relents and did not visit destruction on them. In Jonah Chapter 4, we see Jonah’s response to God having mercy in the Ninevites. He is so angry that God had mercy on the people that he wanted to die.  

There are many lessons to learn about God and his character; about Jonah and his character. Jonah seemed to care more about the plant that was giving him shade and comfort than the people that desperately needed God’s mercy.  

What about us? It’s easy to be concerned about the salvation of our friends, family and loved ones. What about those who are not? Are we just as concerned about those we deem our “enemies?” In Matthew 5:43-48, Jesus has much to say about how we are to love our enemies. “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” 

Jesus is not saying to pray “against” your enemies but rather pray “for” them. There is something that happens within us when we pray for those who we deem our enemies. A few years ago, I had a conflict with another brother in Christ. It was to the point where when he would see me, he’d go the opposite direction. Honestly, I had the identical reaction. Some days later I was having my quiet time and I was convicted about my attitudes and actions towards this person. I felt the Holy Spirit nudging me to start praying for this person. In doing so, God began to soften my heart towards him and eventually we mended our relationship. 

In the story of Jonah, we don’t see his heart soften and we are left wondering. Let’s not be like Jonah. Who might be an “enemy” in your life? Are you praying for them that they may experience the goodness, grace, and mercy of God?  

Tim Ponzani, COO, Converge & Regional President, Converge Northeast

Tim serves as the Regional President and Executive Minister of Converge Northeast. Tim also serves as Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer and Chief of Staff for Converge. He is a graduate of The Ohio State University and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary where he earned a M.Div. and D.Min in Redemptive Leadership and Organizational Development. Tim and his wife Sharon have been married for over 30 years, are the proud parents of two adult children.

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