Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Praying For Those Who Mean Me Harm

I am an infrequent user of an app called PrayerMate. You enter a list of people or things you want to pray for or about (it coaches you and suggests categories), and each time you access it, it picks from those in a round robin fashion so that you will have prayed about everything and everyone in your list over a period of time. I have it set up with all our family, friends old and new, organizations and causes I admire, etc. I mean to get serious about using it every day, and I'm going to add a category: people who mean me harm.

Who would that be?  Who means me harm?  Thinking about it, I have to say I don't know of anyone who wishes me personally any harm.  And why would they? I'm not a person of any significance that would provoke anyone's anger. If I were to say something offensive, I doubt anyone is listening. I'm not in authority over others so I can't enforce my will over them against theirs.

But I know there are people who are actively working for political and social causes that will, eventually, bring Christians into conflict with them, mostly because they will insist that we approve of them.  It will not be enough that some things which are currently illegal will now be legal. It will not be enough that some of these things will be granted the status of rights.  It will not be enough that we are prevented, by law, from speaking out against these things. No, we will be required to call these things good. And since we know these things are evil, we cannot do that.

God tells us that we aren't in a war with people, but rather evil spiritual forces, so I should not, I cannot pray harm on those who would harm me. I need to pray for their good, that their families are happy, their health is good, their jobs are secure, that they are blessed by God. Because their greatest good, their greatest blessings can only come if they are in a relationship with God, I will need to pray something that will seem to them to be harm, but in the end can only be good.

I will be praying that God will open their eyes to the evil in these causes so they see the truth. I will pray that God open their eyes about the evil things in their lifestyles, in their beliefs, in their politics. For their family cannot really be happy unless it is living according to God's will.  Their health will suffer if they continue in practices God has forbidden.  Their work will be blessed in proportion to how much it is furthering God's kingdom. And because this is exactly the sort of prayer God loves, I might get to see this happen, to see the truth set people free. I know that many people will continue as they have been even when they see the truth, because that's what people do most often. Their pride will not let them admit they are wrong, even though they know it. I've done the same thing myself, and that leads me to what I really wanted to write about.

The number one thing I expect to happen when I start to pray that others see the light is that God will make sure I am one of the first ones He enlightens. I am sure there are positions I hold on political, social and theological issues that are wrong, and I expect God will show me the truth about these.  When He has done this in the past, He has been fairly gentle with me.  There have been no grossly public humiliations--I'm no politician or megachurch pastor so nobody is watching!  But I know I'm not likely to learn or change unless there's a sting I can really feel. God will bless me by making me wiser--which really means less foolish.  And the same things I will pray for my enemies are the things God will do for me: bless my family, my health, my job, my everything. In addition to, not instead of, what He does for them.

But this is how it works with God: He blesses us when we bless others. We cannot ever out-give God, but I think He is pleased when we try.  If I want God to bless me and my family, I need to focus on blessing others. And I don't mean this in a prosperity gospel sort of way - I don't expect to win the lottery. It is not the blessings themselves that are the best part of this, it is the changes in my heart that God makes when I am in working with Him that make me more able to be blessed.  In other words, He will make the field more fertile so the increase in the harvest will be greater than the increase, if any, in the seed that is sown. A greater harvest of blessing, to be shared with my family, friends, and even those who mean me harm.

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