Pray for those who persecute and calumniate you.
I love fairy tales, and by far the very best author of fairy tales is George MacDonald. In his wonderful story, The Day Boy and the Night Girl, an evil witch named Watho mercilessly torments a young hunter named Photogen by continually pricking him with one of his sharpest arrows. Eventually, Watho transforms herself into a huge red wolf and rushes toward the hero with the obvious intention of bringing about his end. Photogen, however, is able to kill the otherwise invulnerable beast. How? With precisely the same arrow that she used to torture him! How ironic! There is, I believe, a hidden lesson here.
Evangelical Christian author and speaker, Jill Briscoe, has said: “People may resist our advice, spurn our appeals, reject our suggestions, refuse our help, but they are powerless against our prayers.” I am convinced that this is especially true when it comes to our enemies. I mean, those who hurt us are unwittingly rendered especially vulnerable to the well-aimed and well-intentioned arrow shafts of our prayers. To put it another way, the prayers we offer for our enemies’ welfare are extremely powerful before the throne of God. My prayers for those who have hurt you are not nearly as potent as your prayers for those who have done you wrong, precisely because they have done you wrong.
Jesus says, “…love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” I know what you are thinking: How can I pray for So-and-so? If you only knew what he did to me! To be sure, when Our Lord commands us to pray for our enemies, He is not telling us to do something simple or easy. On the contrary, prayerfully interceding on behalf of those who wish us ill seems to run contrary to our deepest sentiments. Yet with grace, all things are possible. A friend recently sent me the so-called Abbey Forgiveness Prayer. This remarkable anonymous petition was found on a woman’s body at Auschwitz!
O Lord, remember, not only the men and women of good will, but also those of evil will. And in remembering the suffering they have inflicted upon us, honor the fruits we have borne thanks to this suffering — our comradeship, our humility, our compassion, our courage, our generosity, the greatness of heart that has grown out of all this; and when they come to the Judgment, let all the fruits we have borne be their forgiveness…
Wow! If a victim of Nazi brutality can pray for evildoers, perhaps even we, with God’s help, can find it in our hearts to whisper a word of supplication for those who have wronged us.
So why not pray for your enemy? You will be obeying Christ and thus be pleasing to Almighty God. You will definitely feel better. You may, perhaps, win your opponent over, and there is no better friend than a former adversary. Yet even if your petitions fail to gain you a friend in this life, there is always the hereafter. If you make it to heaven because of your charity, and if your enemy makes it to heaven because of your prayers, then he will have all eternity in which to thank you. What sweeter vengeance could there possibly be?
Ready! Aim! Let the arrows fly! Twang!