44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
It's easy to pray for our friends and those close to us, but Jesus asks us to go further, and to love and pray for our enemies.
I don't think Jesus is telling us to like our enemies - that would be the kind of mental gymnastics beyond most of us. He is telling us to look at our enemies, and see people who He suffered and died for - a person that God loves and values just as He loves and values us.
Jesus also tells us to pray for those who persecute us - and what better way to battle against persecution than to unleash the power of prayer? Jesus isn't asking us to pray that our persecutors will go away and pick on somebody else - He's asking us to pray that they will see the error of their ways, cease their persecution and change their ways.
As I'm writing this, the situation in Gaza has come to my mind - let's pray for peace in that part of the world, that persecution will cease, and that enemies will be reconciled.