You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you… Matthew 5:43-44
Who is your enemy?
Maybe there is someone who pushes all your buttons and gets you really mad.
Maybe there is someone who annoys you all the time.
Maybe there is a group of people or a force that feels very threatening to you.
Our impulse is to wish bad things for the people who feel like enemies to us. And the truth is that the Psalms are full of prayers asking God to punish enemies and bring justice to oppressors and bring suffering to people who have caused suffering. It is normal to feel this way, and it is good to be honest with God when we do.
But Jesus also challenges us to grow bigger hearts. One of the best ways to learn how to love someone who seems like an enemy is to pray for them.
Your prayer doesn’t have to be fake-nice. It can be something like, “God you know that I can’t stand ___________, but I guess I don’t know what’s going on in their life. Please help them get what they need.”
As you practice doing this, you might find your heart softening a little bit. That’s a good time to add a new prayer: “God, help me to see _______ the way you do.”