Praying for the Enemy
I had a serendipitous conversation with a friend a couple of days ago that started with being tired of being angry. Anger is a very tiresome emotion. It can really suck the life out of a person, and it is pretty useless and non-productive. Oh, I know that there are times when Anger has seemed to energize me and moved me to action. But, even then, it is a very draining way of being moved to action.
My friend mentioned that she had in the not so distant past decided to pray for all the men she had dated over the past 20 years… I don’t know what the issues are/were, but, I could tell that that there had been much anger and frustration. I knew where she was coming from, since I once had a penance that involved offering every song I sung at mass for those that I felt persecuted me. (Music was one component of the persecution) Aaarrggghhh! I almost cried because I knew it was exactly what was needed.
Funny thing about this idea of praying for those who persecute you: Both of us reflected that we started slowly and begrudgingly to walk through the motions of praying for those we were angry with and had been deeply hurt by. We just said the words because it was the right thing to do. Slowly, it changed. Slowly, the process moved from saying prayers for them to praying for them. Then, to really praying for them. And one day you look up and realize that you are really praying for them, and Anger has given up trying to hold you in that place where you eat the rat poison and hope the rat dies.
Myself, I understood that when one of those who I felt persecuted me launched into something that would previously have angered me, hurt me, made me feel in danger. I realized that I was no longer angry, but very sad for this person. I was praying for him. I was asking God to bring healing and good things into his life. What a load I set down that day.
That’s not so say that these persecutions were not painful or that at some level I was not justified in my feelings of anger toward the other. And, in some cases, in many cases, you may not ever be close to the persecutor. It might be bad and downright dangerous. But, to move from a need for vengeance and anger to a place of letting go, stepping back from me and into a place of sincere concern for someone is one of those miracles we need in our daily lives.