Probably one of the most commonly ignored dictates of Jesus is His command to pray for those who hurt you. Let’s face it, it doesn’t come naturally. It’s so much easier to plot revenge and lick our wounds. The problem with that approach though is that, paradoxically, it keeps us attached to the very person who has hurt us, magnifying their power to hurt us even more. Without realizing it we give them too much control over our thoughts and feelings…like giving them rent-free space in our hearts and heads.
There are two good reasons to pray for those who hurt you. The first is simple: Jesus said so. We don’t always need to understand or be on board to obey. It’s about trust. A child may not always understand a parent’s reasoning not to run out in traffic, but should listen. “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matt. 6:14-15)
The second reason to pray for those who hurt you is because God loves them (and you love God). Because He has a plan for them. Because they may need these prayers that may never have come were it not for the hurt they caused you. Because God loves you too and wants to bring good out of the pain He’s allowed in your life. Because hurt should not have the final say in your heart, love should. In our pain is His power…if we listen to His words. “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” (Eph. 4:32)
We are to give the grace we have been given, so that the enemy won’t be able to take that hurt and turn it to a bitter root, and harden our hearts (Heb 3:7-11). When our hearts are hardened, we shut ourselves off from God and others. We become emotionally numb and cold. Our attitudes are critical, skeptical and cynical. Our perspective of people and life is jaded. We lose sensitivity to God, to our own conscience and to other people. We stop giving. We stop caring. We also stop growing. Instead we are to “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” (Prov. 4:23)