Thursday, July 03, 2008

Praying for my enemies

Love your enemies. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who persecute you. - Christ
Today I have been reminded again how praying for my enemies can change things. I'm sure you know what I mean. But it is strange. There's that woman next door who yelled at my son and threatened to call the cops on him when he was a little thing and had the bad sense to go into her yard. The same one whose dog has bit both me and my daughter -- more than once each -- and she won't even apologize or control her dog. (Fortunately, it's one of those little dust mop dogs.) Then there's that old lady across the street who only asks about my children as a convenient starting point for criticizing how I'm raising them, as predictable as clockwork when I see her. It's really easy to resent things like that. They grind my nerves at times.

It's strange how different those same people look after praying for them. The woman next door, the owner of the dust mop with dreams of growing up to be a guard dog, turns into a woman struggling to keep her job and take care of her husband, a disabled fellow whose medication interferes with his mind. She becomes a woman whose only sure companionship at home is a certain spoiled dust mop of a dog. Even the dog looks a little different. The woman across the street -- the one with a little too much to say about my business -- has a heart condition, is quite old, and is in failing health.

Strange how different everything looks after praying. It reminds me of the big storm we had yesterday. It took the edge off the summer heat.


ProclaimingSoftly (PSanafter-thought) said...

Good post. Sometimes we pray to "change" the other person, but when we listen to ourselves and God, we can see that it is the one praying who may be changed.

I taught school for a brief time, as it wasn't really my God given talent, that's for sure. I was always praying for God to change those darn kids. Once in the middle of class time, I closed my eyes and asked God to change me and I was instantly changed. I wasn't a better teacher, but I saw things more clearly and I wasn't blaming, blaming any more.

Weekend Fisher said...

Reminds me a lot of myself. Here's a Dietrich Bonhoeffer quote I ran across the other day, very much to the point:

"A pastor should not complain about his congregation, certainly never to other people, but also not to God. A congregation has not been entrusted to him in order that he should become its accuser before God and men. When a person becomes alienated from a Christian community in which he has been placed and begins to raise complaints about it, he had better examine himself first to see whether the trouble is not due to his wish dream that should be shattered by God; and if this be the case, let him thank God for leading him into this predicament. But if not, let him nevertheless guard against ever becoming an accuser of the congregation before God. Let him rather accuse himself for his unbelief. Let him pray God for an understanding of his own failure and his particular sin, and pray that he may not wrong his brethren. Let him, in the consciousness of his own guilt, make intercession for his brethren. Let him do what he is committed to do, and thank God."

Fuller text and citation here if you're interested.

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF

ProclaimingSoftly (PSanafter-thought) said...

That is a powerful quote!

SeekWisdom said...

The Buddhists have a method for blessing, which includes first doing the blessing for yourself, next for close loved ones, then for acquaintances, teachers, friends, etc. Then for neutral people. And last for enemies or those with whom you have difficulties. Any prayer or blessing will do. They have one of their own, but again, this is wonderful method for following the Gospel admonition to love one's enemies.

I've tried things like this. And it changes you. It really does.

Weekend Fisher said...

Hey, Seeker, long time no see. Hope things are well with you.

All the best
Anne / WF

Rick said...

Agape love and unconditional forgiveness are characteristics that are distinctly Christian and wholly unknown to our sinful natures. Thank you for the encouragement to be guided by the grace of God in Christ rather than the faithless frustrations of the flesh.

SeekWisdom said...

I pay attention. But haven't had much to contribute of late. All is well. Indeed, "all manner of things are well." (as Julian of Norwich would say)

From time to time I may drop some hints or ideas - even if not on topic.

Seek and ye shall find. God is good.

Blessings upon you.