May 25, 2021: Praying for My Enemy
“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matt. 5:44, NKJV).
Jason was my nemesis. When we were young, he beat up nearly every kid on our block, including me. Things worsened as we got older. He sexually assaulted a dear friend of mine, and, to my face, threatened to kill her.
For years, I harbored anger toward Jason. As a young Christian, I came across verse after verse in the Bible about forgiveness and praying for your enemies, but I ignored theses verses and would just turn the page. I was so deeply hurt; I didn’t want to forgive or pray for him.
One day, I came to a passage and started to turn the page, when a vision came to my mind. I was in heaven and two beautiful girls were telling me how they came to Christ. They were sad that their dad wasn’t there with them. “There was no one to pray for him,” they said. Then they told me his name. Jason. I regretfully explained why I hadn’t prayed. It was my fault he wasn’t there.
This imagery shook me. I didn’t want to pray for him, but what if my prayers could change him?
I began to pray for Jason—very reluctantly and minimally at first—but, over time, God’s Spirit began to direct those prayers. He was a prayed-for man.
Years later, Jason reached out to me on Facebook. He apologized for everything. He had become a born-again Christian. He showed me pictures of his two little girls—two little girls who will have their daddy in heaven with them.
Father God, give me strength to forgive and to pray for those who hurt me, trusting that You hear and heal. Amen.
Jeremy Garlock is the superintendent of schools for the Pennsylvania Conference.