Part II: Praying the Beatitudes Backwards

June 21, 2020 • Life for Leaders

Scripture – Matthew 5:9 (NRSV)

“Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons and daughters of God.”


In this familiar passage of the Sermon on the Mount, it is easy for us to insert ourselves and our desire to receive individual blessings. However, Jesus is speaking to a crowd with collective, historical pain. It’s a communal message, not an individual message. What would it look like to turn the message into a prayer of confession with an outward facing Kingdom imagination?


Oh God, I want to inherit the kingdom of heaven, but I don’t want proximity to the poor in spirit.

Oh God, I love to receive your comfort, but I don’t want to know the causes of discomfort of those that mourn.

Oh God, I want to inherit the earth, but the idea of being meek or gentle is revolting to my pride and ego.

Oh God, I want to be satisfied in my own personal thirsts and appetites, but I don’t have a hunger nor thirst for your Kingdom Justice.

Oh God, I love to receive mercy, but I have been hurt or taken advantage of many a time before, so that I do not want to be merciful.

Oh God, I want to see your face, but that would involve seeing and confessing the sin that so easily entangles my impure heart and motives.

Oh God, I want to be called a daughter and a son of God, but I want to just keep the peace, not work for peace.

Oh God, I want to take part in the kingdom of heaven but I want no part in being persecuted for the sake of your justice and righteousness.

Oh God, I have said and thought all kinds of evil when I have insulted your children and persecuted them because of me, not loved them because of You.

Oh God, have mercy on me and may the message on the mount be lived out in me.


How does flipping the order of the beatitudes change your perspective and what does it reveal about your heart?


Rewrite the beatitudes in a way that seems fitting for you, to reflect what the heart of the beatitudes is drawing out of you. Journal and pray them out this week as you watch the news. How are they still a message for today?


Jesus, may we sit at your feet as you sit on the mount. May the heart of your message cut to the heart of our misses and mistakes. May we be the students and you the divine teacher. May we reflect and rest on every word that pierces, convicts and comforts. May the heartbeat of this message give us life and breath in our life’s message. May we live into this message, that others would recognize the one that has sent us with this message. Help us be brave and courageous. Grant us grace that points to your grace. Amen.

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Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: “Blessed are the Peacemakers, For They Will be Called Children of God” (Matt 5:9)



6 thoughts on “Part II: Praying the Beatitudes Backwards

  1. John F Pettit says:

    I’m white. I am a believer. I am an attorney who has spent 54 years of my life concentrating on justice for the marginalized. I am presently greatly troubled by those who want to manipulate me into shame because of my color and want to destroy our American way of life. Violence and destruction are never right. Revising history is foolish. Justice yes. Violence no.
    Maybe you have suggestions about how I can pray for peace for all.

    • Mark Roberts says:

      John, thank you for taking time to comment. Perhaps one of the best suggestions I can offer is to let your prayers be guided by Scripture, much as Inés did in this devotion. If we let God’s Word guide our prayers, if we model our prayers on what we see in Scripture, then we will be seeking and expressing God’s own heart. We will be praying for peace for all, peace that is reflects the biblical vision of shalom, that is, wholeness and justice in all relationships.

  2. John, if you have been working for justice for the marginalized, then what makes you think these protests are about you? Only you and God know your heart; you must seek him for an answer to that question. But we whites have ALL benefited from systemic racism, long before we knew what it was. We don’t need to rewrite history; we need to learn the parts we were never taught, so we can continue to work towards liberty and justice for ALL, especially those whose cries for justice have been ignored for generations. That is how we live out the Beatitudes and continue bringing God’s kingdom to earth. If you have already begun that work, that is wonderful; pray for others to join you.

  3. Pamela Barclay says:

    My name is Pamela Barclay and I am so sorry that things are the way that they are because I am African-American and I too have been picked on Walked on but the one thing that I have realized is that God is on my side and I thank God for that I love being who I am I thank God for even raising me up without him I will fail listening to the Beatitudes being turned around and being redone it’s a wonderful amazing thing if we would do it and I thank God for you teaching me that because I didn’t realize that it was like that

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