I begin each day in prayer. It is a vital part of my life. Mine are not the typical “gimme” prayers. I have matured beyond the childish requests of wanting my every wish granted. (With the exception of – I’m still praying for that pony for Christmas!) I’ve learned that what I’m seeking may not always be in alignment with Divine Will. My prayers now consist mostly of gratitude*, awareness, and alignment**. When praying for others, I ask only that they open their hearts and minds to God, allowing Him to guide them, heal their pain, and restore them to wholeness. Additionally, I ask that they always and only make morally right decisions that keep them in God’s favor.
I’ve always found prayer to be comforting and fortifying. I experience a sense of peace as I converse with Father God knowing that as I navigate through this life of uncertainty, temptations, and pain I am never alone. As a child, I received great comfort in having my dad to protect me and keep me safe. And in the event that I got myself into something I was ill-equip to handle, he was always eager to guide and support me through it. So it is with my Heavenly Father.
Prayer was always effortless when petitioning for those I love and care about. However, there have been times in my life when praying has not come easy. Praying for those who have hurt or betrayed us can present a unique set of challenges. How does a wife pray for her husband who had an affair or a business owner for the one who forced him out of business? How can the parents of a child murdered by gang members pray for those who caused them unspeakable pain and robbed them of their most sacred love? We’ve all found ourselves in situations where prayer seemed nearly impossible and sometimes completely unreasonable.
The Bible tells us in Luke 6:28, “But I say to you love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” “Pray for those who mistreat you”? Seriously Lord? How can one pray for someone who has caused them incomprehensible suffering and hardship?
I faced this challenge about twenty years ago when I found myself at the threshold of a ten-year estrangement from three of my children due, in part, to vindictive and hateful family member. For any mother, the pain of losing a child is her worst nightmare. And while most think of that loss in terms of death, estrangement can prove to be nearly or equally as painful. My mom reminded me of Luke: “Pray for him,” she said. So I prayed that he might open his heart to God and allowed Him to heal whatever pain was causing him to be so spiteful. It wasn’t easy. Initially my prayers were angry prayers: the Our Father laced with a few “I hate that SOB!” repeated over and over. Yet with each prayer, God removed a portion of my pain and replaced it with understanding. Another Our Father exchange anger with forgiveness and so on until my petition to God was one spoken in love and faith.
God understands our anger and is forgiving of angry prayers. All He asks is that we never cease dialoguing with him. He fervently wants us to reach out to Him in the darkest moments of our lives. He promised to take our burdens from us and make us whole. But He can only do so if we remain open and connected to Him.
In the years hence, I have found myself in angry prayer with other hateful family members and each time I turn to God He fulfills His promise and restores my sense of inner peace. And today, I am faced with yet another test. I find myself growing weary and not wanting to pray at all. How many times must I be betrayed by those I love? How many times must I ask God to heal their wounds and restore His grace to them? Maybe this time, I should just pray that they all go away and leave me alone instead. But mine is the easy way and God prefers that I do things the right (His)way.
In my weakest hour, I once again hear His Voice: “Trust me. Do as I ask. Let me ease your burdens. I will bless you with my love and make you strong. I will never forsake you.” So, as I sit in faith I close my eyes and begin, “Our Father who art in Heaven…”
Be angry but pray anyway. God understands. He’s pretty cool that way.
*”Dear God, thank you for everything you have give me, for everything you have taken away from me, for everything you have left me, and for everything that is yet to come. Amen.”
**Lord, I am a physical manifestation of your presence in this world. Let all who know me come to know you through me. Help me to live my life every day in a way that pleases you for you alone are my Lord, you alone are my God, you alone are my Savior. Amen.” (From The Great Truth)
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