Have you ever had someone in your life who hurt you, wounded you deeply with their words and actions, betrayed you, abused you in some way?
You feel you need to stay away from them as much as possible, just to protect yourself from the negative vibes that they dump on you whenever you’re around them?
Yeah, me too.
(Note: With truly abusive people, it is truly necessary to keep a safe distance from them.)
I admit that there have been times when I wished that God would just take certain very unpleasant people out of my life. Instead, He sent another person and then another person and another who were like that because I wasn’t getting the memo:
“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for 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 NASB
So, what did He mean, “Pray for those who persecute you”?
Once again I admit to not really wanting to pray for those who have been so hurtful.
Jesus left it kind of open ended. He didn’t tell us what to pray for them. But He did say to pray for them, as opposed to praying against them.
I know that when I’ve been so upset with someone for how they’ve mistreated me in the past, I haven’t had much of an imagination for what to pray for them. But I wanted to obey God. So, I’ve cringed as I prayed, “God bless so-and-so. There! I said it! I’m done!”
I’m rather sure, now, that this is not more than just the first baby step toward doing what Jesus was talking about.
I believe Jesus knew that not only could our prayers reach heaven to bring about needed change in the lives of these people, but that our hearts would be softened and benefited from our prayers for them, as well. He knew it could be a win win situation.
Recently I’ve had to be in the presence of a couple of these difficult people for whom I’ve been praying, and I found two surprising things:
- I was no longer afraid of them, and
- They did not say one negative thing to me!
What a relief!
I’d like to share with you a sample prayer of some of the things that I’ve prayed for these and a few other difficult people in my life, that I believe have helped to bring about these two changes. (I plan to keep praying for them because we will continue to need God’s help.)
I hope that this prayer will help you kick start your own prayer for those people in your life. Feel free to pray whatever is on target and use the rest as a template, filling in the blanks as they apply to your own situation.
Lord, today I pray for _______ and _______.
I pray that You will bless them with healing in their psyche that is so battered that they feel they have to hurt others to make themselves feel better.
Please give them the faith that they need to believe that You love them and want them.
Help them to overcome their pride and rebellion and the desire to lash out at other people.
Please do a miracle in their heart; bless them with the gift of forgiveness for those who have wounded them and have put them in this torment of spirit & soul.
I pray that You will deliver them in Jesus’ name from the lies they have believed and from spirits of self-exaltation, hatred, malice, unforgiveness, anger, wrath, jealousy, insecurity, evil speaking, ungratefulness, depression, discontent, and anything else that is keeping them from being able to know You and walk in Your way.
Please bless them with a humble and contrite heart before You, a repentant heart, a heart willing to start at ground zero and begin walking with You.
If they don’t truly have a relationship with You, please bless them with true salvation through Jesus Christ, and make them the beautiful new creation that You want them to be. Help them to experience Your grace and then begin to extend that same grace to others, including me.
And Lord, when the time comes for You to answer this prayer in a visible way, help me to believe that You’ve done it and to have Your wisdom in how to proceed.
I choose to forgive them, and I leave them to You to bring them to the point where they will truly follow You in obedience.
In Jesus’ name,