The gift of intercession is not only meant for those whom we want to bless. It is also for those who hurt us.

In Acts 7, Stephen asks God to spare his killers from the judgment they deserve. "As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.' He fell to his knees, shouting, 'Lord, don't charge them with this sin!' And with that, he died" (Acts 7:59-60, NLT). How God's heart must have broken at this scene!

You see, God loves our enemies as much as He loves us. He has no desire for anybody to be separated from Him. That includes the intolerable person who bullies you at work as well as the friend who betrayed you. "The Lord isn't really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent" (2 Peter 3:9, NLT). Do you want that for your enemies too?

I think most of us would lie if we said that our main thoughts about our enemies are for them to be saved. That makes it even more important that we pray for them. Even if you are unable to pray a blessing over them, bring their names before the Lord. Do not expect to have Stephen's heart towards your enemies on the first day but allow God to work with you in love.

As God gives you more and more grace to pray for your enemies, you may find that the truth about the gospel sinks in deeper every day. You may find yourself looking into Jesus' eyes as He says: "Father, forgive [your name], because she doesn't know what she is doing" (Luke 23:34).

Who in your life is tempting you to forget God's love today? Bring their names before the Lord. Your prayers may be the deciding factor that secures their place in heaven. "Then he breathed on them and said, 'Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone's sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven'" (John 20:22-23, NLT).

Scripture readings:

Acts 7:51-60

2 Peter 3:9

Luke 23:26-43

John 20:19-23