“Pilgrim Reflections” - "The Hardest Prayer You’ll Ever Pray”
Prayer is communing and conversing with God; but, there’s one type prayer that’s much harder than the others.
What is it?
It’s “praying for those that despitefully use you” and asking God to forgive them.
Yes, we know Jesus told us to “rejoice, be exceedingly glad and leap for joy” when others take advantage of us or hurt us with vicious words and deeds (Matthew 5:11-12, 44; Luke 6:22-23).
But, He never said it’d be easy; in fact, it’s downright impossible in our own strength: and that’s why we need Him and His Grace to do it.
Even recently, I realized once again how thoughtless and unkind folks can be. The husband of my older sister, Joyce, passed away up in Oregon; so, I flew up there to be with her even though I’d not seen her in many years.
She was surprised, but delighted to see me: and it was only after getting there that I realized she was suffering with the onset of Alzheimer’s, dementia and was very weak. Sadly, the week after I returned home, she fell and ended up in the hospital for two weeks.
Then, she went into a Memory Care facility, which turned out to be a horrible experience; in fact, on New Year’s Eve night we removed her from this very abusive environment, putting her back in the hospital.
Over the next three weeks she ended up in-and-out of the hospital, a different Memory Care and a rehab center—suffering two strokes during the last two weeks of her life. And, the last Sunday of January she passed away, leaving us filled with grief over all she endured those last couple of months.
Then, believe it or not, less than 36 hours after Joyce’s passing, the landlord-owner of the house she and her husband lived in for 20 years texted me, telling me we owed her $1,900. It seems the house was filled with trash and their three pets’ smells were all over the house.
Unbelievable! Instead of seeking to console our family in our time of grief, this hard-hearted landlord—who evidently is greedy and cares for no one but herself—DEMANDED that we pay her, while also criticizing our “dysfunctional family.”
Needless to say, I didn’t respond to her hateful text; neither will we pay her a single penny in response to her allegations and demands.
But, I must say she (and all those like her) is the type person for whom we should pray, as Jesus said: partly because it’s evident she doesn’t know Him—and, partly because my refusal to do so and/or forgive leaves me also in a perilous position.
Why is that?
Quite simply because, as Jesus said, “If you don’t forgive, you can’t be forgiven” (Mt. 6:14-15).
Likewise, by retaliating with words and/or deeds. . .or allowing “seeds of resentment” to fester up with us. . .we end up having a “root of bitterness”. . .which affects all of our relationships—including ours with God (Hebrews 12:15).
And, as I’ve learned, it’s impossible to “rejoice and leap for Joy” (Lk. 6:23) when others talk and act that way; in fact, it’s only when we “deny ourselves, die to ourselves” and are “filled with His Holy Spirit” that we’re able to do this (Luke 1:15, 41-44; 9:23; Galatians 2:20).
Then, and only then, are we able to better know Jesus’ Heart and respond the way He did—even from the Cross (John 3:30; Lk. 23:34; Philippians 3:10).
Here’s hoping this helps you a bit if you’ve been fighting other battles where loved ones and/or close friends have taken advantage of you. Do what Jesus said. Follow His lead. And, turn them over to Him:
For He knows who they are, what they’ve done/said and one day they’ll give an accounting to Him for their time here on earth (Psalm 2:1-12; 73:16-20; Mt. 7:21-23; Galatians 5:19-21; Hebrews 2:1-3; 10:26-39; 12:25-29; Revelation 20:11-15).
(NOTE: If you’d like to contact Bro. Tom or receive his daily e-mail devotional, entitled “Morning Manna,” you can write him at P.O. Box 614, Mulberry, AR 72947 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org).
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