A prayer for our enemies

Forgiveness. Sometimes we forget this one word that has affected us all in some way. My first experiences with this word came when I was a young, bothersome child. Maybe, as I was often prone to doing, I framed my siblings for something I had done.

“Who put super glue all over the walls?” an angry parental figure would demand.

I’d point my finger, more often than not to my sister. “She made me do it! She told me I could climb the walls like Spider-Man!”

This was a good strategy for most of my childhood escapades, until I was caught. And then no punishment was too severe for me.

But then I grew up and realized the power of speech: how to stand up for myself and explain my point of view. And I was lucky enough to have parents who understood me. My siblings never seemed to hold a grudge against my devilish side — I honestly believe they were inspired by all the crazy schemes I came up with that got us all in trouble. And I am struck by how extremely blessed I am to be forgiven. I’m not perfect — I’ve been horrible and I’ve messed up a lot. But it always seems as if I have someone who is kind enough to give me the benefit of the doubt and grant me mercy.

There’s more to forgiving someone than just saying the words, though. It requires an act of conscience to let go of all the bitterness inside you. And I don’t know about you, but for me this is the hardest part.

There are all kinds of opportunities for us to be hurt. For instance, when your friend lets you down when you need him or her most, forgiveness seems impossible. And the closer we are to the person and the more we trust them, the more it hurts when he or she disappoints us. So when we’re asked to forgive him or her after betraying that trust, he or she might as well be asking us to sprout wings and fly.

But where would any of us be without the forgiveness God grants us every single day? What about when God commands us to forgive each other, just as he has forgiven us?

When it’s the hardest, I’ve found the best thing I can do for these people is close my eyes and pray for them. And not the “Lord, I pray that you just convict these people. Or at least let some kind of injury befall them.” This prayer is a lot harder. We have to pray for God to actually bless them and enrich their lives.

It takes a lot to get me angry. But when I get angry, heaven knows I can hold a grudge. On occasion I’ve been known for teaching individuals the definition of the words “spiteful” and “vindictive” through my actions.

But God has a different calling for us. We really do have to take the high road on this and be Christ to others. Just as he forgave us, so we have to forgive them. Christ prayed for his disciples. And when you think about it, we are all disciples of Christ. I’ve found that every time I pray this for my enemy or someone who’s hurt me, I receive the kind of peace that passes understanding. I’m free from all my bitterness. So pray for each other. Forgive each other. And see the kind of effect it can have on your life.

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