Could you pray this prayer for terrorists, for killers, for gunmen, for bullies, for family members who hurt you deeply, for friends who stab you in the back, for co-workers who use you, or any number of circumstances that cause you or someone you love pain?
Could you forgive someone for a terrible crime simply because they do not know God?
Jesus prayed this prayer for those who carried out His execution although He was an innocent man. He was crucified between men who deserved death. He asked God to forgive those who were committing the worst crime in the history of the world. This prayer was also directed toward the taunting crowd, religious leaders happily observing His death.
Jesus, the only innocent Man to live on this earth, the only Man undeserving of death and punishment was put to death in the most humiliating and unfair way … and yet He prayed ’Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing’”.
Jesus forgave those who murdered Him not only on the cross but also in their hearts. He saw their state of lostness and just as He had compassion on the crowds who surrounded him during his ministry, he had compassion on His persecutors.
To forgive someone undeserving of forgiveness; to forgive someone who does not even recognize their need for forgiveness. This is the hardest prayer anyone can pray.
If Jesus is our example for Holy living according to God’s will, then we can follow His example even in this—the offering of forgiveness to those who persecute us. .
Matthew 5:43-48 GW “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you this: Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you. In this way you show that you are children of your Father in heaven. He makes his sun rise on people whether they are good or evil. He lets rain fall on them whether they are just or unjust. If you love those who love you, do you deserve a reward? Even the tax collectors do that! Are you doing anything remarkable if you welcome only your friends? Everyone does that! That is why you must be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Matthew 6:12 GW Forgive us as we forgive others.
So, Let's pray for our enemies that they might know the love of God and the freedom of forgiveness.
’Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing’”