It is really easy to pray for people we care about. We only want the very best for them and are not afraid to ask God to grant them whatever they need. Daily, those we love are remembered by name in conversations with our Lord.
What about those who have wronged us? It is so much harder to pray – and mean it – for those who are, for lack of a better word, our enemies. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:44 “But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.”, and in Luke 6:27-28 “But to you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Again, easier said than done!
Someone who has wronged me in the past has recently fallen upon some personal tragedy. (I’ll call this person Pat. If your name is Pat, you are not the person about whom I am speaking. I changed the name so as not to offend and respect privacy. Plus it is easier to write with a name rather than saying “this person” every time.) When talking to my husband about it, he said “It’s hard to feel sympathy, isn’t it?” He was right. It is really difficult to feel sympathy for someone who has shown no basic courtesies towards you whatsoever. This realization scared me as I became conscious that what I was feeling was certainly not Christian! However, I am also cognizant of the reality that Pat would not welcome any personal contact from me, so I have decided to pray. I pray for Pat every day, by name. I pray that the trials met are handled with healing and grace and that recovery is complete.
I was discussing this with another family member over the weekend. He said that he also practiced praying for his enemies. Whenever there was a problem with someone at work, he would simply pray for that person, or people, and when he did, whatever the situation was became easier to handle.
Jesus set the bar extremely high when He was beaten, bloodied, cursed, and being tortured in the very worst way – He continually prayed for those that were hurting Him and He meant what He prayed. He truly desired God to “forgive them Father, they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
The people for whom we pray, may never know about our prayers and that’s okay. Pat and I will probably never be at a point to discuss this, but both of us can experience God’s love and healing through the power of prayer.
I know this is still easier said than done, and I have to renew my resolve daily to truly pray for Pat but this is simply part of the journey to becoming more Christ-like in how I deal with adversity. I have a long way to go, but I am confident this is a step in the right direction.
“Lord Jesus Christ, Who didst command us to love our enemies, and those who defame and injure us, and to pray for them and forgive them; Who Thyself didst pray for Thine enemies, who crucified thee; grant us, we pray, the spirit of Christian reconciliation and meekness, that we may heartily forgive every injury and be reconciled with our enemies.” Amen.