I heard a something in a sermon recently that made me pause. The reference was concerning a letter written by the Apsotle John—who wrote extensively on the subject of love (see the Gospel of John and 1,2, & 3 John).
John believed that love was a cure for even the vilest offense and darkened heart. The preacher said;
“For John, the lack of love is the same as hatred…
This made me consider the simplest prayer that could be prayed for the evil and downright wicked. Those whose hearts are completely ruled by evil and darkness: who don’t have a nice or generous bone in their entire body. Prayer for the arrogant or thoughtless and most vile offender against the Gospel: our enemies in the truest sense.
That I/we could begin to pray something as simple as:
“Lord Jesus, flood ‘s heart with your love!”
“Flood the heart with your love!”
And that would be enough! That over time we will see changes in that person or persons only the Lord himself could accomplish!
This prayer, simple as it is, is a powerhouse prayer. For no man, woman or child can withstand it forever. The Holy Spirit will come and will begin to break down the concrete walls of hatred; even if He must do it one brick or layer at a time!
n Make a (physical) list of those who are hardened in their heart against others, against people groups, against innocence or good, even against you if applicable!
n Don’t forget to add the worst offender against God’s good and love in this world
n The conniving and shrewd, those who plot evil, or plot to bring destruction to others for whatever reason and no good reason
n Those who pride themselves in being enemies of God: enemies of the Gospel of Christ
n Those who have a violent and murderous spirit, who terrorize our communities and citizens
n Those who occupy the highest offices in the land and show no mercy or compassion toward the citizens whom they represent
n On and on until you are sure the Holy Spirit is finished.
Note: you do not have to personally know each individual. You don’t have to have a name for each. They can be someone(s) you have read about or heard in a news story, evil that has crept in through a system, or terrorizes a community. You might target those who harass others and make their life miserable by bullying, etc.
Next, post your list in a prominent place where you will not forget about it. Begin your prayers. Add to the list if the Holy Spirit leads you. Praying for each one daily or with regularity as the Holy Spirit compels you to do (For this reason I might add you make a duplicate list to keep in your handbag or wallet!) Before long you will be highlighting or checking off each name as their evil heart turned to good, their hardened heart is softened, their darkened heart, enlightened, their cold heart, warmed by the love of Christ.
To be sure, when the love of Christ, brought through the Holy Spirit, comes to rule in even the most hateful heart there is the difference of night and day! The criminal will turn from his ways! The hater of good will find herself driven to be kind and considerate towards others! The spew-er of hatred and slurs will find no fault and repentant of former ways and regret such hatred and slander against others.
Could it be that we see such an increase of evil and hatred in our world, partly because we have stopped praying each and every heart be filled and controlled by love?
n A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another.—John 13:34
n So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God—Ephesians 3:16-19
n But God did not give us a spirit of fear or timidity but a spirit of power and love and self control—2 Timothy 1:7
n And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith—Acts 15:8, 9
n And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and all your soul, that you may live—Deuteronomy 30:6
n And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statues and keep my rules and obey them—Ezekiel 11:19, 20
For further reading see the letters of John: 1,2, & 3 John
You can easily include children and young people in prayer
since they also encounter the evil and wicked in their journeys! Perhaps it’s a classmate or a bully who harasses them.
n Cut a large heart from construction paper, using either black or red. Then a smaller heart of white to be placed on top of the larger one.
n Jot down the names just as we did above and have your child hang their heart in a prominent place in their bedroom or other area of the home.
n This can be your child’s first exercise in both intercessory and persevering prayer
n Help your child pray for these individuals daily. They will be strengthened just knowing God is at work in these individuals!