When we are “at war” with some thing or some place or some group, the most difficult things we can do are to pray for peace without also praying for the decimation of our enemies, and also to pray for our enemies. I say often (I probably nag too much about it) that praying for our enemies is advanced Christianity. It’s rubber-meeting-road as to type of spiritual person: remembering to pray / meditate for those who most want to hurt you, to defame you, to kill you in the name of what they think is right.
In peace, pray for your enemies, as I have prayed for you.
I do wish that Jesus would have come right out and said something like that in those red-text parts of the Gospels.
Oh, wait! He did!
“You have heard that it was said ‘LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR BUT HATE YOUR ENEMIES.’ But I say to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you so that you may be sons of your father who is in Heaven; for he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on both the righteous and the unrighteous…” (Mtt. 5:44)
I’m afraid that many folks who think that they are good Christians only read as far as “hate your enemies,” and stop, because that is the part that suits them. That does not make them good Christians, or good people at all, according to the Western Christian view.
Those people are looking for an excuse to hate, and this verse might give them one, claiming it comes directly from Jesus. That decision of theirs is both sad and wrong, and according to what was actually said in the entire passage probably makes them out to be evil and unrighteous,
according to what Jesus really said in this passage.
When you were a kid (hopefully not as an adult) did you ever have to go up to some other kid you got in a playground scruff with, and some teacher who busted you made you both shake hands and make up? How galling was that? Have you ever done something as an adult to someone that was so bad that apologizing to them was so embarrassing you were afraid to do it? So it goes with this praying for stuff you really don’t want to pray for. You have to – you know – but if you didn’t just get busted by God… you wouldn’t.
That’s the way this stuff goes.
When we ask for peace, there’s little use in praying for some impossibility such as asking that it will all just stop. You know better. That’s not the way humans play at war.
Instead spend time in your meditations thinking on what can be done, what parts can be prayed for. It will vary by situation but doesn’t it always revolves around some variation of one side (or all sides) getting their heads out of their butts to understand the errors that brought everybody to violence and fear. From there, work – when possible – for peace.
As you know, it won’t always be possible to find, yet we pray for it anyway.
The Book of Common Prayer gives us this as a peace prayer, comparing the kind of “Stuff” that is going on around us to what Heaven is like:
Eternal God, in whose perfect kingdom no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the strength of love: so mightily spread abroad your Spirit, that all peoples may be gathered under the banner of the Prince of Peace, as children of one Father; to whom be dominion and glory, now and for ever. – Amen
It’s all about the love. No smiting or crushing necessary.
If you’d like to read more about praying for peace when we really don’t want to, you might also read my entry on Mark Twain’s The War Prayer.
Tomorrow I will post a prayer for your enemies, so we don’t mix up the two today. Meanwhile, pray for peace each day in whatever your style of thoughts and meditations. Create the change in yourself to make the peace that extends to all the worlds around you.
Do your part for creating the peace for which we so sorely pray.
Keep the faith!