praying for your enemies…

praying for your enemies… June 13, 2012

… Once when a priest told me to pray for my enemies I retorted, “But Father, I do pray for them. I pray for the Lord to smite them”. He didn’t laugh. Not even a chuckle.

Yes, what was meant as a joke did leave me feeling bad. For a minute. It left me to wonder a great deal longer. I know we are commanded to love our enemies and pray for them but what exactly does praying for an enemy really mean?

And it is such a stretch of the imagination and against Christian love to pray for our enemies to be defeated. Being defeated isn’t an eternal condemnation. It’s not the same as wishing someone to Hell, from which there is no escape. What if someone we know is committing evil? Do we not have a duty to pray for their attempts at wickedness to fail? Certainly we don’t pray that our enemies be successful and prosper. I do not want enemies of The Church to succeed and I pray that those enemies who persecute Christians be crushed. I mean, goodness. The Psalms are the perfect example. I’m too lazy right now to look them up, but you know. Jaw breaking, teeth smashing smiting – it’s all in there.

So do I have a biblical cause for praying for the defeat of my enemies? Would you believe me if I said my motives were altruistic instead? Good can come from a crushed and defeated man. Just as there are no foxhole atheists, an evil man who has lost everything – job, family, riches – will be forced to turn to Christ once he’s been stripped of everything.

Sometimes man is that stupid and stubborn. It isn’t until something horrible happens that we realize how much Christ is needed. So if we want bad people to change praying for them to suffer and have their lives generally suck is just helping the conversion process along. Right? Does any of that make sense or am I just looking for an excuse to ornery?

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