The most quoted, most know, most recognized, most incredible sermon in history would be the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5). Jesus just spills out the simple instructions to live by, instructions that were keeping with the spirit of the law even when it seems counter to the practice of the law.
At the end, Jesus finishes with a part on “Love your enemies”. Now the word enemies can sometimes be taken quite literal (as in a war), but He finishes that quote with “pray for those who persecute you”. So now Jesus is including anyone who is a physical enemy and/or who is or has ever persecuted you. OK, still not a huge list for me (at least that I’m aware of). However, when you back up a few verses to 5:21-22, He says “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” So this means that anyone who has thought ill of me, been frustrated with me, etc, is liable for that judgement.
When you put all these lists together of people who are physical enemies, persecutors, or simply been angry at some point, I’d bet that list grows significantly for each of us.
So on this National Day of Prayer, I find myself with quite a list of people to pray for, many of whom I don’t even know their name or are even aware of (you know, that guy you cut off on the highway and he flipped you off, ya, that guy counts too).
My simple prayer for all these people (many of who I have no way to identify) is that God’s peace is with them.
Lord I pray for every person who has wronged me or been angry with me, believing I have wronged them. The anger that is or was in their hearts (at least at the time) is not of you. I’m sure some of these people know you and are already forgiven under your grace. But I’m sure there are several who don’t yet know your love and grace. I pray that even today, on this National Day of Prayer, that someone else in their life (already one of your sheep) reaches out to them and shows them the love I simply cannot. They are worth of your grace just as much as I am. Thank you for the forgiveness you have shown me and the strength you give me to forgive others.