“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” —Matthew 5:43-44 NKJV
To Bless: “to say a prayer asking God to help and protect someone or something.” (Macmillan Dictionary)
I was angry. I’d been shot down for the hundredth time at the meeting I was leading. One lady clearly did not like me and was bound and determined to disagree with every single little thing I said. Our committee was getting absolutely nowhere and time was running out. Decisions had to be made, and I felt as if I was repeatedly being sabotaged.
I confided in a close friend, spewing forth without reserve every bit of the frustration I felt at this unjust and unwarranted treatment. I waited for her to respond. I expected her to sympathize and become indignant right alongside me. But … no. She tilted her head to one side and asked softly, “Have you been praying blessings on her?”
Well, no I had not. I knew my gentle friend was referring to the passage above in Matthew 5. Jesus turned the usual response to an enemy on its head, didn’t He? “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you.” I was stymied. I hadn’t actually thought of this woman as an enemy. But, in a sense, she was, wasn’t she? She was not for me. She was against me. That’s an enemy. Even if she wasn’t shooting poisoned arrows over the balustrade, she was still attacking me. And that meant those words applied. Yikes.
Just how do you go about blessing an enemy? And what if the enemy is worse than a woman disrupting a meeting? Like an unfaithful husband? Or a friend who told your darkest secret to a roomful of women? Or a politician you know to be evil? Or someone who has abused you? I mean. Blessing? What does that even look like? Just maybe it looks like this:
Father, please bless _____. Bless this enemy of mine with an understanding of Your unfailing love and unimaginable forgiveness. Help him/her to confess any sin to You and to feel in his/her deepest core the stunned realization that Your son Jesus took the punishment for that sin on Himself. Oh, Lord, may he/she be overcome with amazement at Your mercy! Heal all that is broken in _____. Instead of sorrow and anger, let there be joy that spills out on others. Help _____ want to forgive as he/she has been forgiven. Deeply, utterly, fully. Give _____ a full understanding of who You are and Your good purposes for his/her life. Don’t let _____ wallow in unbelief and remorse. Move _____ forward into Your light and change the whole trajectory of his/her life. May _____ be filled with the fruit of Your Spirit, living life passionately for You and no one else. May _____ be a testimony to Your grace and to Your immeasurably great power. In Jesus’ Name and by His strength and love alone, I pray this for my enemy, Amen.
Ray and I have had several occasions to pray blessing on someone who has wounded us. The result has always been peace that passes understanding in our own hearts, wicking away the glob of bitterness stuck there. And, often, we have seen a warming in relationships because our prayers were for our enemies and that spilled over into the way we treated them.
Jesus says quite bluntly and clearly, “If you love me, obey my commandments” (John 14:15 NLT). I see no wiggle room. Believe me, the first time I actually did this enemy blessing thing, it was excruciatingly hard. I did not want blessing for this person. I wanted them to feel my pain. I wanted them to hurt like they hurt me. That’s the sad truth of it. But after I had prayed and prayed some more, my heart softened toward them. And, like so many other times, I saw how God’s commands are for me and not against me, bringing blessing on my own sorry self.
Does praying a blessing on our enemies mean they won’t be held responsible for their actions? No. God saw. God sees. God is merciful and also just. But if your enemies truly see the magnitude of what they have done and fall on their knees in horror and repentance, what a work God can do in their broken lives for His glory! In this world, there may still be hard consequences for their sin as well. Our blessing works two ways. We invite God to help our enemies become all He can make them, new creations eager to serve Him and love others fully and freely. And, invites God to free us from sin by turning our bitterness and anger into caring and sympathy. Now that’s a blessing, indeed.
Lord Jesus, Your words are hard. But they are true and right and good. Help us to see as You see. Show us how to minister for good through prayer even in the hardest of circumstances. Lord, protect the innocent from our enemies, from the pain they may inflict. Change our enemies from the inside out. Enable us to hear Your still, small voice as we pray. In Your Name and for Your glory, Amen.
You are loved,
Sweet Selah Ministries
To encourage a movement away from the belief that “busy is better”
and toward the truth that stillness and knowing God matter most—
and will be reflected in more effective work and service
To offer resources and retreats that help women pause (Selah)
and love God more deeply as they know Him more intimately (Sweet)
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