How To Pray For Those Who Hurt You
Answering the call to be a disciple of Jesus means answering the call to an out-of-the-ordinary way of life. In fact, the more you learn about the way of Jesus, the more clear it becomes just how uncommon, abnormal, counter-intuitive and up-side-down it truly is.
That may never be more true than the way in which Jesus calls us to
In Matthew 5:43-44 Jesus says,
"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” ***
Notice the connection between the overarching command to love our enemies on the one hand and the command to pray for them on the other. It’s as if Jesus describes the practical outworking of the love He commands saying, “Want to know what love for your enemies should look like? Prayer - asking God to work for their good.”
Calling us to pray for the people who have hurt is a brilliant demand on the part of Jesus. Here’s why:
It’s hard to hate someone you actively pray for.
Loving one’s enemies is not easy, in fact it often feels impossible. This is what makes prayer such a helpful solution.
Sincere and humble prayer puts us in most intimate relationship with God and it’s impossible walk away unchanged by that. Over time, our hatred melts away and turns into true love - even for someone who has wounded us deeply.
So, if you want to put Jesus’ words into action, but aren’t sure where to start, here are four ways to pray for those who have hurt you:
First, pray they have a fresh encounter with the living God.
It is impossible to walk away from a fresh encounter with the living God and remain the same. Recall any instance in the Bible where a person meets with God. They may fall facedown. Their face may shine. Their hearts may be broken. What they are not is the same. The deepest need of anyone who has ever hurt you and refused to make it right is an encounter with the living God of the universe. So pray that God would reveal Himself to them.
Second, pray God would break their heart for their sin.
Hearts grow calloused from committing sin over and over again. It could be that the person that hurt you doesn’t even equate what they did with sin. It could be that they feel no remorse. It could be that given the chance, they’d do the same thing again. There can be no genuine change in them until God breaks their heart over their sin. So pray that God would bring deep conviction, breaking their heart for their sin.
Third, pray God would stop them from hurting others.
I’m certain the last thing you want is for others to experience the pain you’ve had to experience at that person’s hands. It’s not enough to simply pray for change in the person. We can also pray that God would protectively intervene, insuring they are unable to inflict further pain in others. So pray God would stop them from hurting other.
Finally, pray God transforms them from the inside out.
The Bible is one long story of God changing cowards into leaders, murderers into kings, prostitutes into disciples and terrorists into church planters. God changes people. Even the hardest heart can be softened by the hand of God. There is no way to take back the pain that person inflicted on you, but that doesn’t mean God can’t heal you and redeem them. So pray God transforms them from the inside out.
Jesus calls us to love our enemies. This means...
Our love is only distinctly Jesus-like when it is directed at our enemies.
Jesus loved us while we were His enemies. He went so far as to give His own life in our place for our sin. He didn’t wait for us to “see the light.” He didn’t wait for us to own our sin. He didn’t demand we make it right. In fact, He knew we couldn’t do any of those things, so He loved us as enemies and made a way for us to be changed.
Jesus doesn’t call us to put ourselves in a position to be wounded by the same person in the same way over and over. Jesus doesn’t demand that we lavish an abuser with love notes. Jesus doesn’t even tell us to remain in relationship with everyone who has ever caused us pain.
Jesus does tell us to love our enemies and to do so by praying for them. So let’s commit to pray today for someone who has hurt us.