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Pray for Your Enemies?

Devotional writer Karen Barber on why you should pray for those who have wronged you.

Woman praying by lake at sunrise.
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Pray for those who mistreat you. Luke 6:28 (NIV)

It was a lovely spring morning and I was on my favorite part of my morning prayer walk—the “thy Kingdom come” section when I pray for blessings and provision for the people I know who do ministries of all sorts. And, Lord, please bless Monty, I prayed silently. And then it happened for the hundredth time: My mind jumped the track, and I replayed an unfortunate incident that had taken place months ago on a mission project. Someone else working with us had been extremely critical of Monty’s rules and his ways of doing things. The criticism had undermined Monty’s authority and dampened the spiritual atmosphere of the whole team.

Every day when I prayed for Monty I found myself becoming upset all over again. I stopped on the sidewalk and thought: Praying for Monty drags me down because of how disappointed I am with the fellow who undermined him. Maybe I should stop praying for Monty since it always seems to stir up my bad attitude and makes me think about all of the faults and shortcomings of the guy who criticized him.

A cloud scooted over the sun and I suddenly realized that I never give up my prayer walk, even if it’s raining. Why should I give up on praying for someone because it wasn’t easy to do? I found myself humbly praying, Father, I thank you for the difficulty of this prayer.

Jesus tells us to pray for our enemies. I’m not sure how our enemies benefit, but I can tell you how I do when I attempt praying for them. Praying for those I dislike isn’t easy; it involves honestly dredging up feelings of disappointment, hurt, anger and indignation. I continue to pray for Monty daily—only now, I also pray for the fellow who criticized him. It certainly keeps me praying—very hard!

Dear Father, I’d rather not, but You have commanded me to pray for everyone, even ________________.

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