Updated: Feb 23, 2022
“Pray for who’s-it… wha-whaaaat?”
I shot the photo above and you can see it in my personal, photography portfolio.
No, that’s not the latest viral dance sequence or the hottest new pop song. It’s most likely the kind of reaction people will have when I tell them them to pray for their opponent. Yet I’ve been hearing it for quite a while from pastors, media and even the Bible. The more I experiment with it, the more I understand it, the more I want to publicly address it.
First off, let’s loosely define the word “Enemy”
How to use the word “enemy”, it’s been a struggle for me for the past few years. In my partially broken mind, I often want to call out “enemy” toward anyone who’s ever hurt myself or my own. But in my heart and soul I feel like reserving the term for those who have no function; except to promote evil. I’m talking about things like demons and their master, not people.
"we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."
Ephesians 6:12 KJV
And, dare I say “brother” or “sister” when referring to an opponent. I’ll get into that in a bit.
Where do we get the message “Pray for your enemy”?
God speaks this message in many places such as media, church, streaming from the mouths of pastors and the Bible, which also carries the message in more than one place; for example;
"Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you"
Matthew 5:44 KJV
How easy (or hard) is it?
(Writer struggling to find words)... It's... [nope, can't say that in family oriented content]...
Okay; it's downright, absolutely, insanely, ridiculously hard (for lack of better words, and continued use of parentheses).
I shot this image myself in West Seattle. See it here in my personal portfolio.
It's completely anti-intuitive. It goes against not only basic instinct; but long-time, deeply engrained modes of dealing with social conflict.
We get worn into these grooves of hating each other. Forgiveness seems to have become one of the hardest things on the planet. Technology doesn't help either. We can send off an angry message, pull a quick trigger or push a simple button marked "destroy"; all much quicker than we can think about the benefits of approaching with a cool head and a warm heart.
When I say I know it's hard, that's an understatement. And believe me; not only have I tested others, I've been tested myself. I'm not talking about some guy bumping my shoulder walking down the street. I'm talking about much, much worse (of which I'm not ready to go into). Just believe me; for some of what my family and I have gone through, most would not act within the boundaries of compassion.
Why would someone forgive an opponent?
I don't know which it starts with; the benefits to those who forgive, the benefits to those who need to be forgiven, or the benefits that go out to everyone. In any case, I've seen things done in two ways:
1. Run the race. This is the competition where whoever hurts the other one the most wins. A belief is held that when a person does something wrong, they need to be punished as harshly as possible. The finish line is never found because under that philosophy, it works in an insane way. Person A commits an offense. Person B commits an offense in the name of punishing Person A. Person C must now commit an offense in order to punish Person B. Oh boy; now Person C has to be punished, so let's call Person D up for the job. It never ends.
In other words; adding drops of anger, violence or persecution to the bucket does not make the bucket lose substance. Those drops make the bucket continue to overflow, no matter how and why the participant thinks the bad behavior is justified. And make no mistake; EVERYONE who harms someone else thinks they have a good reason for their actions.
Why forgive? Why not justify bad behavior with more bad behavior, especially when it's so easy to find information on how to harm someone else? I'll give you a few reasons:
1. God thinks you're out of bounds. It was he who created a balanced system that involves compassion, wisdom, forgiveness and the sharing of information that can inform people about bad behavior and stop it. In fact, all of that system and more hinge on education. If God didn't believe that, there would be no mention of forgiveness anywhere within the teachings given by Himself or those who work for him. There would be no need for it. Just throw people with bad behavior in the trash, then start a search party for the few who are left.
"For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."
Matthew 6:14 KJV
2. I believe God hurts to some extent.For any parent who watches their children destroy each other there is pain, likely on the scale of "tremendous". Imagine being a parent and watching your children damage each other on purpose. Imagine how amplified that pain would feel if your children numbered in the billions.
3. That race mentioned above; it's not just annoying, painful and demanding of great loss to us all... it's deadly. The only way to stop it is to stop it; not just for the criminals, but also for the crusaders. It's simple; anger breeds anger, hate breeds hate, violence breeds violence. Those things are open doors to evil because you can't become a conduit for them without becoming saturated by them. Forgiveness toward those who've wronged us is THE alternative.
"But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another."
Galatians 5:15 KJV
I do not use stock photos. See the image above in my portfolio.
4. The opponent is usually a brother or sister; and yes, call it what you will; bad information, possession, demon, etc. In any case, that opponent is like the rest of us. We're not built to destroy each other. We're built to work together. That's the way God intended it. That's the way it works when it works. To harm someone takes a wrong turn, a misguided ride where a person is given bad information; information that says it's okay to work against what God intends for us. So when I pray for my enemy/opponent, I pray for the purpose of freeing my family member from the chains of false information.
Pretty simple. Just ask God to help the person, to see what they're doing wrong and be given open doors to better ways of social interaction.
I know, that responses of compassion, empathy and forgiveness are some of the very few ways to rescue people from darkness. Prayer is another. I've also tried the path of revenge and it never works... never. In the end when I leave this body, I just want to meet up with as many of my universal family members as I can. And I owe God the patience toward others as they cause damage, as he once gave me before I broke free from darkness.
Thanks for reading :) I spend a lot of late nights and challenging moments working hard. All content is done by me... the writing, recording, editing, web design and setup, photography and publishing content. If you find value in it, please consider any of the following: