Friday, October 28, 2011

Praying for your Enemies

I'm sorry? Did you say you don't have any enemies?

I laugh. Sure you do!

If you're like me you first assume an "enemy" is someone who might literally spit in your face. Raise a hand against you. Butt heads in a family-feud and now you don't speak anymore.

But if you will let me - I'd like to suggest that you have many more enemies than that.
Without going to Webster, I would say that an enemy is someone who is against you and against the things important to you. Anyone hindering your goals. Not helping you in your endeavors. I dare say - if they're not for you ... they are indeed against you. Your enemy.
If you must have an official definition, this is for you: A person who is actively opposed or hostile to someone or something.

So. Let's tone down this "spit-in-your-face" mentality and bring the battle field a little closer to home.

Actively opposed. 1. To be in contention or conflict with.

By that definition, your enemy might look something like this:

My goal: Make dinner.
Who's in contention with me? An antsy, hungry 3 year old swirling at my feet, whining, jumping, laughing, "helping" every time I turn around.

Tell me that isn't the truth!

Do you know how many times a day she is actively opposed? How many times she could be considered "an enemy"? We're called to love those that oppose us. Love those that are in contention with us. Pray for them.

But what does my attitude look like when the enemy is a 3 year old?
Frustration. Anger. A snap "Get out of the kitchen!"

But Love says Pray for her.

So - what do I pray? (I know I'm being petty and specific here - but follow me. It ends well.)

I'm pretty sure "praying for enemies" is effective when we're praying FOR THEM. Not against them.

In addition, praying FOR seems different than praying ABOUT. No?

I don't need to pray about my daughter: God help her little size 11's march out of this room. Amen.

No. For her.
Thank you for her. You created her. To swirl and whine and jump and laugh. Thank you for HER goals. Her desires. Help her enjoy life. Teach her patience and love. Give her the desires of her heart. Bless her.

Focusing on her needs immediately turns the focus off my needs. If I let it, prayer will turn my attitude. Toward my enemy. Toward my opposition. Toward the person I am called to love.

And the need to pray for myself.
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Grant me the serenity.
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Can I get a little more specific?

You know that man you're attracted to? The guy that's married? The one you find yourself talking to on lunch breaks, text messages, and emails? Yeah. His wife is your enemy. If she knew about it, she'd be in direct opposition. And you're called to love her. To pray for her.

What would that prayer sound like? God, thank you for his wife. For her life and her care for this man. I pray that you would keep their family close. Help them grow together, not apart. Give her wisdom, grace, understanding. Giver her the desires of her heart. Bless her.

Praying for her, if you let it, will change your attitude. Toward her.
And the need to pray for yourself.
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To accept the things I cannot change.
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Praying for your enemy covers the whole shabang - from the idiot who was texting while driving and caused you to be late to work to the person who might literally be trying to steal your job or your spouse -

While this isn't a call to paranoia (enemies are everywhere!) it's a call to prayer. When you feel opposed. When your attitude is wrong. When someone is standing in your way.

I've found praying for my enemies an exercise in my own spiritual, emotional, and social health.

Whether it's a momentary "enemy" or a lifelong one, if you'll turn your thoughts and your heart toward prayer, I'm convinced you'll find it easier to love others and more difficult to hold onto the anger that consumes you.
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Courage to change the things I can.
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