Today I talked to a couple of dear friends about praying for those who are our “enemies.”  All enemies are not of the mortal, ‘fight to the death’ kind. Enemies can be those whose values oppose yours, who criticize, demoralize, or belittle, or lie about your beliefs and way of life.
An enemy can be someone you don’t even know who cuts you off in traffic or speaks hurtful lies behind your back. An enemy can relish your sufferings and defeats as they rejoice over their comforts and victories. Enemies, as Jesus describes them, are those who hate you, curse you, mistreat you.
So, praying for someone like that, I’ve found is not easy. And you can’t do it alone. I’ve actually written about that very thing in this blog before. You can only pray for someone like the people I’ve described above with the grace of God. I have found that, the more I’ve prayed, the easier it becomes. It becomes easier as the anger and bitterness turn to sympathy and compassion. Those are God gifts. Those are virtues and characteristics of God. And anything we hold within us that is good is from God and to Him alone belongs all glory and thanksgiving. Because God is so good and merciful, as we pray, we gain more grace.
Receiving that grace is for another time, and it is discussed in my book which bears the same title as the blog, if you’re interested. But what I want to address now is the prayers we can pray for those who seem to hate us so, but whom we must pray for and love. That’s what Jesus requires of us.
My prayer includes a sincere supplication to the Holy Spirit that the hearts of my enemies will be broken, but not for any arbitrary reason. May their hearts be broken for the very things that break God’s heart. Injustice, insincerity, dishonesty, selfishness, disinterest in the welfare of others, impatience – these are all on the list of things that break God’s heart. Oh, and also sickness, starvation, neglect. You know what would break the heart of God who is Love. You know.
So my prayer that God will break their hearts for what breaks His, is also my prayer for me. Break MY heart for what breaks Yours, Lord! And then that’s when we gain, with the grace of God, compassion for the enemies in our lives. (For a great song that addresses this challenge, give a listen to Matthew West’s, “My Own Little World.” His lyrics were the inspiration for my ‘heartbreak’ prayer.)
The hardened heart begins to crack and then that lets the Light in. Little by little the crevices go deeper, the heart pulls apart; then the darkness inside that hardened exterior enveloped is exposed to, absorbs, grows warmer and brighter with, the Light of Love that patiently waits outside. God is standing by until hearts that are broken are lifted up, ready and willing to burn with the Light of that Love.
My daughter ‘happened’ to send me a column in USA Today by Kirsten Powers this afternoon. It’s about her plan to change, to be less judgmental and more compassionate. She laments her part in fanning the flames that engulf the toxic public square these days; they destroy lives in that seemingly unquenchable inferno.
Ms. Powers refers to Scripture and the concept of the “scapegoat,” which is certainly relevant. But I have another Biblical account in mind. It is that of Jesus asking that those who are without sin to “cast the first stone” at the woman “caught in the act of adultery.” Of course, no one can. Because we are all sinners, we are all imperfect beings. And many of us don’t even realize that our hearts are hardening over time until they are impenetrable by anything tender or forgiving or understanding, until our memory of our own sins are conveniently buried.
God’s grace, His love and mercy, can take care of that in us. Actually, there’s nothing that stands in the way of love that God can’t overcome, defeat, or crush; there’s nothing God can’t enlighten, embolden, animate, infuse with His love so we can unite with Him.
There is a spirit that seems to be rampant in our society and culture today that seeks only to divide and destroy lives, reputations, goodwill, our love for one another. But it won’t win. See my assertions in the preceding paragraph. You don’t have to take my word for it. Try reading God’s Word and you will see that God has the Victory. In fact, it’s no contest. There will always be a battle within us because we resist God’s abundant, reckless love and grace. And some poor souls don’t even know to fight that spirit of destruction so they are rolled over and there was no struggle or even skirmish fought therein due to lack of knowledge of what is truly good and what is not. Those of us who do know, though, often limit God’s power in us and so in the world. Come on, ask God to break our hearts and let the Light pour in to fill in every dark corner, and then lift you up to where He reigns.
More Heart, Less Attack by needtobreath
Be the light in the crack
Be the one that’s been there on a camel’s back
Slow to anger, quick to laugh
Be more heart and less attack
Be the wheels not the track
Be the wanderer that’s coming back
Leave the past right where it’s at
Be more heart and less attack
The more you take the less you have
‘Cause it’s you in the mirror staring back
Quick to let go slow to react
Be more heart and less attack
Ever growing steadfast
And if need be the one that’s in the gap
Be the never turning back
Twice the heart any man could have
Be the wheels not the track
Be the wanderer that’s coming back
Leave the past right where it’s at
Be more heart and less attack
Be more heart and less attack
Be more heart and less attack
I stuck my hat out, I caught the rain drops
I drank the water, I felt my veins block
I’m nearly sanctified, I’m nearly broken
I’m down the river, I’m near the open
I’m down the river to where I’m going
Song writers: Nathaniel Rinehart / William Rinehart

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