Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Praying for our Enemies

Most prayers are normally directed in the form of supplications, to petition God for relief of pain, sickness, financial difficulties, all sorts of problems and worries for self, for family, relatives, and close friends. Most prayers are also directed to praising and thanking God for all the blessings that are given to us, especially those prayers made in gratitude to “answered prayers”. A little extraordinary probably would be praying for the “enemy”, praying for one who has seriously wronged you, hurt you, maligned you and most probably even continues to do so. In the order of priorities, I guess one prays for his enemies last, if ever. If one ever prays for the enemy as in: “Lord make him suffer for this…” – that is not true praying, and is actually an offense to God. Now if the prayer goes like: ”Lord, please touch him and make him change his ways…” well, I guess that is passable enough and would be closer to the proper intention, but not yet quite, as we take a look at Luke 6:27-28; 32-36.

“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.
If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.
If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount.
But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.”

“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

Jesus certainly epitomized this mercy, even as he suffers severely on the cross, he prayed : “Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing”.

Praying for the enemy is a tough act. This explains why some saints say it is the main criterion of holiness. People who make our lives miserable and cause us so much pain are least likely to receive a place in our hearts. It is the most difficult prayer of all because it is contrary to our impulses, and because you cannot really lift a person up to the Lord and at the same time continue to hate him. Before praying for our enemies, the first step then would be to remove the anger in our hearts, to substitute charity and compassion instead. As we then pray, it becomes a profound moment of reconciliation and solidarity with humanity, that in the eyes of God, we are no more and no less worthy of our enemies praying for us.

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