enemy prayers

Posted: October 30, 2013 in Uncategorized

Pray for your enemies.  Advice none of us wants to hear, much less follow.  It is uncomfortable even in the abstract and downright offensive when we are thusly directed by someone as we are in the heat of a resentment.

In one of my favorite lessons on this (and sadly, I can’t remember who was the teacher – just the lesson), the speaker talked of the variety of “enemy prayers.”  It went something like:

 

1.       Vengeance prayers – as in, “Get ‘em, God!  Smack ‘em!  Squash ‘em!  Give ‘em hell!”  I’d like to call these prayers “unbiblical,” but I’ve read too many of David’s Psalms to do so…and God called David “a man after God’s own heart,” eh?  Sometimes, right or wrong, that is the only real place from which we can bring ourselves to pray.

2.       “Teach ‘em, Lord” – this prayer is less vengeance-oriented and less punishment-minded.  It asks the Lord to change the enemy’s mind, adjust his attitude or understanding or intention.  It wants the enemy to be “fixed,” though it doesn’t necessarily contain much or any warmth, empathy, compassion, or goodwill toward the enemy.  More of a “set things right” request. 

3.       “Bless them, Lord” – this is the freest prayer of all, in which there is no animosity, no selfish motive (face it, “make them better so that they don’t tick me off so much” is NOT an unselfish prayer), no playing God (‘cuz MAYBE your “fix them in this way” prayer is well-intentioned, but MAYBE you are also trying to step into God’s shoes and decide what your enemy needs.)  There is not what an old friend used to call the “witchcraft prayer,” – bless them IF they meet the conditions I have in mind.  This prayer is unconditional and takes the faith-stretching step of assuming God has the best ideas of all.

 

I have started out at all three of these places.

 

I have “evolved” from #1 through #2 to #3, in some cases.

 

The truth for me is that even if I START by praying angry prayers for/at my enemies, HE changes my heart.  I cannot sustain hatred toward anyone for whom I am genuinely, faithfully praying, no matter how angry my prayers may start out.

 

The thing God does MOST in me as I pray for my enemies, though, is to change:  ME.  My pastor said it well, recently:  “When I pray, God very rarely illuminates what the other person did.  He brings to light what is up to me.” 

 

I can ask Him to change someone else.  And MAYBE He will.  But DEFINITELY He will work on me, to the fullest extent that I am willing to be adjusted.  This is one of the endlessly many ways that He meets us in the place of our willingness:  if I will pray, He WILL change AT LEAST me.

 

Sometimes this ticks me off – even when it makes an enemy into a trusted friend.  I have been like Jonah, whining at God, spouting, “see, I didn’t want to pray for them because I KNEW You’d do something like this!” 

 

Sometimes it surprises me, even though I’ve experienced it so often.

 

Sometimes I can FEEL the tinkering and changing He is doing in me as an inner conversation.

 

Sometimes it seems like a PRESTO WHAMMO MAGICAL kind of thing, accomplished out of the blue and catching me blindsided. 

 

Sometimes I have the good sense to be glad – grateful, even – for it.

 

And on some rare occasions, I even start out ANTICIPATING it will go like that, in advance, even at the very first prayer. 

 

Teach me how to pray.  This is a request I make almost every time I do the “conscious” prayer and not just the usual running stream of consciousness conversation with Him.  When it comes to praying for enemies, I LOVE the ways He answered, thus far.

 

Guess I will keep on asking. 

 

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