I debated what I would title this post. Would it read praying for “our” enemies, or “your” enemies.
The “y” makes all the difference, doesn’t it? If it’s “Our” enemies, that implies this affects many of us. It can also mean that it gets a bit abstract. If it is “your” enemies, then I’m pointing the finger right at you – individually. It’s a lot harder to ignore this, isn’t it?
I wonder if the reason we have enemies is because we don’t pray for them. No, not literally. We have enemies because there is a conflict of some sort – a conflict of values or words, borders, struggles over power or resources, religion, belief, etc. But maybe the better question is why do we continue to have enemies? A simple answer is that neither side is willing to budge.
Where does prayer fit into this mix?
Pray for your enemies. We’ve all heard this before, but have you considered what it actually means. I’m not talking about prayers that try to control and change “them” to your way of thinking and believing. That’s more like using God as a weapon in your own personal war. Not that this hasn’t been tried throughout all of human history.
But rather pray a bit differently. Why not pray for their well being. That’s not easy. It’s not comfortable. If we are honest, we don’t want to pray this prayer. Don’t pray this so they can get the upper hand and destroy you. That’s just crazy. But I wonder, how would it change our interaction with our enemies if we prayed for their well being?
Or how about a prayer of peace. Not peace in general either, but specifically. Peace with our enemies. That peace would come over them and us. A prayer that peace starts with each one of us, you. It starts with how you treat your enemy. Do we treat our enemies with peace, or do we continue the divide? We don’t trust our enemies – that’s inherent in being an enemy. But we supposedly trust God. So why not put our enemies in God’s hands to deal with and to show a path forward – a path of well being and peace for both yourself and them?
I think part of the reason enemies continue to exist is because we don’t pray for them. It’s really easy to hate someone or a group of people if we never pray for them and push them off in the distance as “those people.”
When we pray, it changes us. It changes us in weird ways – our will shifts to become in alignment with God’s will. You can’t honestly pray for someone and then turn around and want to kill them, see them hurt, or devastated.
Our prayers reflect more on who we are, rather than what who we think our enemies are. We can’t change our enemies, but we can change how we think about them, how we treat them, how we talk with or about them, and more. And it starts with prayer. Because only God can change them. Just like only God can change us. And with prayer, that’s bound to happen. Maybe that’s part of the reason we don’t pray for our enemies – we don’t want to change.
Pray for your enemies. Pray for yourself.