To Love One's Enemies
I've known for some time that praying for trouble-makers is a good idea. I remember once someone asking, if you saw someone trying to strangle someone else, would it be more effective to pray that the strangler stop or that the victim be able to survive being strangled? An odd question certainly, but it suggests that, assuming one believes in the power of prayer, it might be more practically effective to pray for the the trouble-maker.
My own breakthrough on this occurred during sniper attacks in my community a few years ago. I had just attended a church service where the readings directly addressed how God cares for all his children, and how they are safe in His protection everywhere and all the time, in respones to recent sniper threats to the opposite. As I was driving home, I felt led to pray for the sniper. I wasn't really sure how this would work, but it felt like the right thing to do.
In previous experiences I had learned that a good way to really express love for someone is to think about all the ways in which that one is loved by God, specifically being loved by a heavenly everpresent spiritual father-mother God. So I prayed to know that this individual was a child of God, and that God was that individual's real father and mother. I thought about ways in which divine Love would be mothering that person, providing comfort and safety. Then I thought about how God, Spirit, divine Love was fathering that person, creating them whole, providing them strength, wisdom and sustenance. As I was thinking about other ways that God's father love would be felt by this individual, it suddenly hit me in this passage from the Bible: Whom the Lord loveth he correcteth!
The complete passage reads: "For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth." Proversbs 3:12 (KJV)
I realized that God's love, like any parent's love, has correcting power! I realized that God's love would never let His child stray from his true identity as an individual expression of God, and would provide the correcting power in his life life and in ours to bear that out. All that is required to bring this out is for us to reflect God's love for them. This was a wonderful revelation to me! I realized the power of God's love not just to bless this individual, but to bring him into accord with God's loving plan for all his children.
This was a thrilling realization, that night, and I was not surprised upon hearing the next morning how the snipers had fallen asleep in their car in a rest area just off the highway and had been caught later that night. One might even say that they had been corrected by God's love. The outcome was certainly answered prayer.
That experience alerted me to the enormous value of loving trouble-makers all over the world. Our prayers can embrace our enemies in the forgiveness and warmth of God's tender merciful loving kindness. As we more completely impersonalize evils, separate them from individuals, and see each individual as God's loved child, our reflection of God's love can melt through mists of materiality to reveal more of God's children living in the kingdom of heaven - increasingly experienced here and now.
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Last updated: 12/25/05