“Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.” – Luke 6:38.
Well, this is a tough one, isn’t it? It is difficult and counterintuitive to our nature to pray for someone who’s hurt you. It’s so much easier to plot revenge and lick our wounds. The problem with that approach though is that, paradoxically, it keeps us attached to the very person who has hurt us, magnifying their power to hurt us even more. Without realizing it we give them too much control over our thoughts and feelings; in other words, giving them rent-free space in our hearts and heads.
With a little thought, we could all come up with a list of people that have hurt, betrayed, lied and/or offended us, whether it’s friends, family, social media, or opposing views. We will all experience times on the giving and receiving end of feeling offended. We may not have set out to hurt someone intentionally. But we’ve all hurt people and wished so desperately that we could take it back. But how different would you feel if they were praying for you and working on forgiving you?
In the Old Testament, even righteous people prayed for God to destroy their enemies in cruel ways. But Jesus turned life upside down with His command to bless, love, and pray for our enemies.
Why should we pray for our enemies? Because Jesus did. He prayed for those who opposed Him, for those who devised evil against Him, and ultimately as He hung on the Cross, Jesus prayed for His Father to forgive all those who had a part in His death—because they didn’t know what they were doing. Jesus modeled unconditional love and how we should pray for our enemies, then commanded us to do the same.
Prayer is an amazing discipline and privilege. What usually happens when we pray for anyone, is that the prayer acts as a boomerang. God may or may not answer in the way we prayed, but God often chooses to bless and change us as a result of our obedience to pray. It’s hard to stay angry at someone for whom you earnestly pray. Prayer also leaves the consequences, revenge, and complete justice to God. By praying for our enemies, God’s Spirit can supernaturally show love and kindness through us or another that may ultimately change them.
If Jesus can love you unconditionally, no matter what you’ve done, couldn’t you pray for someone who has done something to you? I know it can be difficult to pray for someone when you’re hurting and angry but the first step is to pray to see them from God’s perspective, and a heart to forgive. The other person(s) are probably struggling just like you are and they need forgiveness and grace, just like you do.
- Why is prayer such a vital part of forgiving others?
- How different would your life and your relationship with Christ be if you removed all bitterness from your heart by forgiving those who have hurt you?