Praying for one’s enemy is a spiritual exercise and altruistic value that is taught within Christianity. It is also something that is unnatural, and this might explain why loving, forgiving, and being kind to those who hurt us is heavily emphasized in the bible. The idea of praying for our enemies seems to be a strange thing to do, probably because it IS a strange thing to do.
“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Matthew 5: 44-45
O.K…. Jesus has made it clear, pray for our enemies. But I’m concerned about what some people think is involved in praying for those who cause us harm.
Praying for those who continue to harm us is involves:
-Praying they will change their harmful behaviour
-Praying that they will be transformed for the better
-Praying that they see the error of their ways and the harm they have caused others
-Praying the person(s) involved in an offense make amends with those they have hurt (only if it is safe for the victims)
-Pray for the person to develop a Christ-like heart
-Praying for wisdom and guidance about how to deal with the person
-Praying for courage to protect and stand up for ourselves
Praying for our enemies doesn’t involve:
-Praying that others die or are harmed. This is called revenge; we are not called to be spiteful.
-Praying ill-will on their family
-Praying to God by asking him to do horrible things to others
-Ignoring the wrongs that a person has done
-Praying for a quick recovery so the person can rapidly return to the same destructive behaviour they engaged in before becoming sick
-Forcing others to pray for YOUR enemy. Prayer is heart-filled, intimate communication with God, it needs to be voluntary.
-Thinking that because we as Christians believe in praying for our enemies, it means that others are bad people if they don’t pray as well.
Prayer helps us remain focused. When we are emotionally driven, our thoughts are all over the place; we begin to lose control and are no longer thinking rationally. Nothing makes an enemy happier than seeing the people they are harming fall apart.
Engaging in the spiritual discipline of prayer also helps to prevent self destructive responses to the harm inflicted upon us. Praying before we act gives us time to slow down, identify what we are experiencing and feeling, and make smarter decisions. Praying for our enemies is as much a benefit for ourselves as it is for others.