“Stan,” I began one morning, “there’s a guy at work who is always giving me a bad time about my faith. I really don’t like him very much, but I keep having the sense I should be praying for him. How can I do that?”
“That’s a question I’ve wrestled with more than once,” Stan replied. “And if I’m not careful, I can fall into the trap of thinking someone doesn’t ‘deserve’ my prayers.”
“How do you get beyond that?” I asked.
“Prayer,” was Stan’s one-word answer.
“Prayer?” I responded. “You pray about praying?”
“Exactly!” Stan replied. “When I don’t feel like praying for someone, or if I don’t know how to pray for or about them, I give it to the Holy Spirit. He’s really good at helping me to see beyond what’s on my heart and mind to what God wants me to pray about.”
Continuing, he added, “It’s a constant thing with me to remember that prayer is not about what I want, it’s about what God wants. My prayers don’t change Him, but they certainly can change me.”
“In what way?” I asked.
“Let me give you an example,” Stan replied. “I had someone in my life exactly like the person you described. He was always bothering me about my faith. I got to the point of wanting to avoid him as much as possible.”
“However,” he continued, “one morning when I was praying about something else, he came to mind and I had the most powerful sense of God’s love.”
“God’s love?” I said, “For you?”
“No,” Stan replied, “for this other person. God placed on my mind the fact that He gave Jesus for him as much as He did for me. I began praying for this person. I prayed that God would draw him and open him to want to know God.”
“Did your prayers make a difference?” I asked.
“Sure did,” Stan replied. “My whole attitude about this person changed. I began to see him as someone God really wanted me to pray for, not as someone I was to ignore.”
“So,” I said, “it made a difference in you. What about him? Any difference?”
“God’s not done with him yet,” Stan replied, “and He wants me to keep praying!”
And in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26, 27.
But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you. Matthew 5:44.
But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Luke 6:27, 28.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, for allowing me to come before you in prayer. Thank you, too, for the provision of the Holy Spirit who helps when I do not know how to pray. I confess that too often I have failed to pray because I either did not want to pray or I did not know how to pray. Please forgive me for that foolishness. And please help me in following every step of your lead to pray in accordance with your will, not my own, for whoever and whatever you want. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Think on this: Have you ever been in the situation where you did not pray because you did not know how to pray, or what to pray for? What, if anything, did you do about it? Have you ever not prayed for someone because you didn’t like the person or didn’t like what the person was doing? If so, do you think that’s okay with God? Why or why not?