While I’m waiting on the next thing the Spirit puts on my heart to write, I decided as part of this blog, I will post tips along the way. This past Sunday my pastor was preaching about loving thy enemy and praying for them. I heard one of my fellow church members saying, “It’s hard. I can’t do it.” And, it IS hard. It’s really hard when someone is being cruel to you, stealing from you or worse, to like them, pray for them and let alone love them. I think loving them comes from going deeper in your relationship with the Lord. But, I think I have found a place to break through and pray sincerely for our enemies.
Admittedly, I used to pray through gritted teeth. And, honestly, if that’s the only way you can right now, I say do it. Be obedient to the Lord. Then, ask him to help you pray more intentionally for whomever it is you are at odds with at the time; but, your goal should be to get from obedient to a place of sincerity. Why? It’s powerful. James 5:16 (NIV) says, “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” You want something to change in your situation? Get intentional.
First, let’s look at the first part of that verse. It’s the key to making your prayers impactful. Notice it says “righteous”. Obviously, you, yourself, need to be aligned and in good standing with the Lord. But, you also need a sincere mindset. The way I can get there in that sincere place with that aligned mindset is finding some common ground – so to speak – with the Lord. My common ground, my place of understanding, is as a parent. He is our Father, which means… He is their Father, too. I’m a mother. I learn a lot about His nature through being a parent. So, I try to think about it from that standpoint. This enemy of mine is now a wayward child. Maybe you, too, have a wayward child. Pray what you want prayed over yours. Become in your mind their parent. Let it move you. Maybe you don’t and you are just trying to raise yours up well. What help do you want from the Lord to keep them on the straight and narrow? Pray that. Not a parent? What are you? Are you person with a friend who makes bad decisions? Pray to that. Got a wayward sibling or relative? Yes, actually, we ALL do. We are all, again, His children – even them – pray for your enemy a.k.a. your wayward sibling in Christ. You see what I’m saying? Change your position from an enemy to one of compassion and/or sympathy. It changes your heart. If you really allow yourself to go there, to sit in that new position, you can be moved and emotionally/spiritually burdened to pray for them out of compassion. Bottom line: get to a place of hating the sin not the sinner.
Wanna double down? Put yourself in their shoes.
Let it overheat. Go there.
What hurt is driving their behavior towards you? ‘Cause, you know, hurting people hurt people. There is some pain in their lives that is the root for a lot of their undesirable behavior. In fact, if you really listen to what they say to you, they’ve probably given you either overt or subtle clues as to their issue with you. And, just to be really real here, if you think about it, you probably have some deeply rooted pain that spurns a lot of your not-so-great behavior. What healing do you need? Maybe they need that as well.
Let me pause here and say that there are some situations where you just are a convenient target. As someone who has survived and thrived after abusive situations, let me say this loud and clear: IT’S ALL ON THEM. YOU DO NOT DESERVE ABUSE… EVER… PERIOD! Take care of yourself. Get away. Get help. Get healed. I can say at this point in my life, I have no animosity towards those people in my life. I see their brokenness. I have pity for them. I pray for their healing and wholeness and wish them well. I forgive them, but I take no ownership in their treatment of me. Everyone is called to exercise self-control. God did NOT put me on earth to be a physical, verbal or emotional punching bag for someone else.
Now, for the final part… what you pray must be righteous and in line with His Will. You can’t pray bad stuff over people. Imagine a titanium ceiling above your head. Those prayers won’t break through that sucker. And, in some cases, that stuff finds its way back to you. Yikes! Do you still want to pray that? He won’t hear those types of prayers or if He does, that answer is going to be either a very resounding “NO!” or it’s going to be an obvious silence – you know the one. The one that comes with side eye. Or… the mom face… the one I give my kid or pretty much anyone who asks me something they already know the answer to. Let me see if I can give you a visual…
Yeah… this one. You know better than that. Really?!?
I should probably stop and tell you, there will be a forthcoming post about my “quirks” and my sense of humor and the general random weirdness or silliness that might find its way here and what the Lord said to me about it. It actually was very loving and validating and empowering. You’ll get a feel for my voice and what I want to do on this blog… laugh for instance… and maybe it will help other members of my “square peg in a round hole” tribe. Shout out to you folks, by the way. You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) and loved.
Getting back to my message… pray righteously… pray generously. Wait… what? Yes, pray generously as in “Father God, I pray Your best for ___ in Jesus’ name, Amen.” Why would you want to do that? Because once that Jesus sized hole in their lives is filled with His best – Jesus – they’re not going to want to keep on with you. When you are really filled with love, joy and with that peace that surpasses understanding, you take away the hold some offenses have over you. They seem not to be so important. Pray that they have a hunger for the Lord. And, do you seriously think His best is to let them get away with hurting you or to give them more ammo to come at you. NO! God wants them healed and doing His Will and busy working and living for His Kingdom. He wants them to be good stewards which means loving THEIR enemies – you. But, then again, maybe you won’t be enemies anymore by then… I’m going to leave that right there and let you ponder it.
Now… one little caveat… praying like this does things. You’re wanting it to right a wrong, but don’t be surprised if you aren’t righted yourself. (Proverbs 3:12) I’m speaking from experience here. I’ve never really been able to escape praying over my complaint list without Jesus saying “Well, what about you?” Well, um… what had happened was… See, there’s two sides to the story and the truth is somewhere in the middle. Each person has their own view of the conflict and Jesus knows all the details!
Speaking of conflict… You are not only dealing with an issue on an earthly level, you are daily dealing with very real spiritual warfare. There is one who LOVES to stir up strife, confusion and discontent while trying to stay hidden to carry out his daily mission to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10a). While you’re on your knees praying for your earthly enemy, remember to rebuke that spiritual one!.
Praying like this deepens your faith, strengthens your walk and releases blessings. Praying for your enemies is a little radical. It’s a little crazy. It’s a little unexpected, but it’s a lot like Jesus and isn’t that sort of our aim? To be more like him?
Well, that’s my tip… or maybe this IS that thing I was waiting on. I’m not sure. One can never tell with these things. Still getting the hang of this. If it is, I like what you did there, Lord. I hope this was helpful, reader.
May God bless you and keep you.