Thursday, February 14, 2013

Challenge for Lent; Say WHAAAAT?!!
A Valentine Prayer for your Arch-Nemesis?!

"But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you," ~Jesus (Matthew 5:44 ) 
“The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend.” ~Abraham Lincoln

Okay, so I try to actually do what Jesus says, even as counter-intuitive and counter-cultural as it seems. But, what about that total jerk (I'd use profanity, but after all, this IS a religious blog). That MONSTER that I just can't deal with? What about the person who DESERVES my loathing and not my loving?

Really? Isn't that ALL of us? Seriously. Maybe there's someone who just seems to constantly make your life a living hell. Maybe its their attitude, their behavior, things they say. Maybe they're really "gunning for you," they really enjoy hurting you or demoralizing you day in and day out. 

First of all, I bet that if you step back and get some perspective, you may realize that you're just might be being a little bit paranoid. Odds are they're actually indifferent toward you.

But okay, so for whatever reason, you've neurotically given them way too much space in your head. Even if it IS just your imagination, what ABOUT that person? How on Earth do you ever muster the humility or self-discipline to pray for THAT person?

When in doubt, read the instructions. Most people who've been reading the Bible for a while will tell you that St. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 13 is the "Love Chapter." I'll bet you see it quoted all over the place today since its Valentine's Day. 

So here's my idea. Take verses 4-6 in particular and pray them FOR that person. A Pentecostal or Charismatic blogger might tell you to pray them "over" that person. Here's the passage, followed by how a prayer like this might look-
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
"Dear God, __________________ is driving me CRAZY! I don't know if they hate me or if they're deliberately trying to make me feel like this, or if they just don't care how they treat anyone.

Lord, PLEASE change their heart, change their attitude, change how they treat me.

Make them patient, make them KIND! Don't let them be jealous (if that's whats going on), make them be humble, make them respect others, help them not be so selfish. Whatever I may have done, help them not be so angry with me. Help us to start over. Help them see things more clearly.

In Jesus Name, Amen"

Yeah, come to think of it, this might require that you read 1 Cor 13 over and over again until you have it memorized so that you can apply it like this. That, or you'll have to pray for that person the next time you crack open your Bible, or start carrying a small Bible around with you, or download one of those free Bible Apps onto your iPod or smart phone. Well, really, would any of those things be such bad ideas?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Challenge for Lent; Love our enemies

"But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you," ~Jesus (Matthew 5:44 ) 
“The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend.” ~Abraham Lincoln

Here's a challenge for Lent: instead of giving something up, start something. Start praying for your enemies.

Who are your enemies? You figure you're such a good person that you don't have any enemies?

How about the person who cut you off in traffic or took the parking spot you were hoping for? How about the family member or in-law who makes snide remarks or jabs about something you did or said? How about the ex who you feel betrayed by? That co-worker or boss or customer or whoever at work that just knows how to zap the joy out of your day or trample on your last nerve?

What if, instead of wasting your energy on being ticked off at them, you said a quick prayer for them?

Sure, you COULD say a prayer ABOUT them; "God give me patience with this jerk" or "God, would you DESTROY this idiot?!!"

But what if you prayed FOR them? "Lord, I don't know why this person said that (or acted a certain way), but please help them to have peace- if only so that they won't be such a jerk." or how about "Lord, please help them to realize that the way they just said that makes people feel like crap."

Oh, I know it doesn't come naturally, and it won't be easy. But I'm putting out the challenge. ( I may or may not be able to write something about this throughout Lent, but with God's help, I'm going to try to do it for the next 40 days.) Join me if you have the guts. If we say we believe in Jesus, this is one way we can actually comply with His directions, not to mention imitate His example.