Pray for the tormentors

One of the disciples, Stephen, was sent into Jerusalem to spread the word of Jesus Christ. He was filled with the power of God and worked many miracles amongst the people.

Because of this a group of men in the synagogue revolted against what he was telling the people and lied to the priests about him saying that what Stephen was preaching was blasphemy against Moses and against God.

The high priests brought Stephen before the assembly and challenged him. He answered the priests back with a long history of the Jewish people. When he had finished, he reminded all those present of how their ancestors didn’t believe the prophets God sent and resisting the Spirit of God, they killed those prophets.

This greatly angered the assembly and they began yelling insults at Stephen. But Stephen wasn’t listening to them because as he looked up he saw Jesus standing at God’s side. And he said aloud, “Look! The heavens have opened and I see Jesus Christ standing on the right side of God!”

When the crowd heard that they violently grabbed Stephen and dragged him to the edge of the city abusing him along the way. When they got there the crowd began throwing rocks to stone him to death.

Stephen knelt and cried in a loud voice, “Lord, do not blame these men for what they are doing.” And after he prayed for his tormentors, he passed out and died.

Acts 6:7-9, 7:1-60, interpreted by Sabina after the KJV

 

When I read this I was struck how Stephen prayed for those who tormented him – those very people who were killing him slowly and painfully. He had a perfect pattern to follow; Jesus prayed that the people crucifying Him would not be held accountable for their crime.

So, I wonder, if I were in Stephen’s sandals, would I be able to do the same? Pray for the people who were hurting me? It turns out, I am in his sandals, or at least a different type of sandal. No, I don’t have people killing me; but I do have people being mean to me on an almost daily basis and I need to learn to pray for them, not curse them.

Follow the example set first by Jesus, then by Stephen.

Lord, don’t blame these men and women for the terrible words they are saying to me. Let the pain they are inflicting upon me be transformed into love and joy for them and for You. Amen.

 

Prayer for our leader

Dear Lord,

I pray for the leader of this country—

When I read of the rapid changes he is making

I am disturbed. It seems he is only catering to a portion of the citizens and
not to the country as a whole.

Grant him the wisdom to make the best decisions
for the whole country—
for all the people, not just the ones who elected him.

Help him to have love and compassion for the people he doesn’t like.

Help him to have mercy on those he excludes for whatever reason.

Help him to be inclusive rather than exclusive.

And Lord,

Help me – and all the people of this great country – remember that
while you gave us free will and allow us to amble along the path
of our collective choosing without necessarily interfering

You are with us we amble—whether we walk, stumble and even fall.

You never leave my side, nor the people’s side.
All we need do is look for You to see You;
to reach out to You to feel Your presence;
to listen to You to hear what You are saying.

And whatever may happen in the next 4 years or so,
You are the One constant in an ever changing world,
a world where the pendulum swings back and forth
changing the lives of so many people.

And now that the pendulum has swung back the other way…

I pray that our leader will be strong and loving,
look to You for guidance,
and not to be hasty in decision-making.

I pray for the country that
collectively we come together
and not let that which divides us destroy us.

And I pray for myself that
when I read or see or hear anything
that causes concern and worry for this country
I will run to You, and trust in You, my safe place,
my refuge, the Most High God.

Amen.