By Haley Osborn
As people of God, why are we surprised when we encounter people who oppose us? Jesus promised His disciples, “And you will be hated for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 10:22, ESV).
Throughout history, followers of Christ have endured great pain and suffering at the hands of people who oppose them. As the people of Christ, we must not be surprised by this opposition, but we must rise to the occasion – we must become a people of prayer in the midst of pain, and not a people of pity and resignation.
About one year ago, I embarked on Jimmy Evans’s 21-Day Healing Journal, a process that leads you through confronting the lies you’ve been living under and replacing them with truth. During the journey, I made a list of the people in my life who have wronged me. I asked the Lord to show me what to do with this list and how to forgive those who have hurt or maligned me. The Lord impressed Matthew 5:43-48 upon my heart. Honestly, I didn’t want to pray for these people.
Praying for the people who hurt me meant saying God was sovereign over the outcome of that pain. Throughout Scripture, we see influential people of God pray for those who persecuted, tortured and falsely accused them.
Countless times throughout Scripture we are admonished to pray, to bless, to love and to generously give to those who are our “enemies.” Our enemies are those who are hostile to our faith, those who hate what we stand for, and those who oppose us.
What does it practically look like to pray for those who persecute you? I believe there are three prayer practices that will allow the Holy Spirit to bring healing in our lives: praying Scripture, praying promises and blessings, and intercessory worship.
Praying Scripture. You don’t have to have Scripture memorized to pray it. Have your Bible out and open, and allow the Spirit to lead you to pray Scripture as it is impressed upon your heart. The Lord is a much better author than we are and His words can transform lives. Praying Scripture can bring life where death has entered your heart.
Suggested Scriptures to pray
- Psalm 23
- Philippians 4
- Jeremiah 29:11-13
- Matthew 6:26-34
- 1 Corinthians 13
Praying promises and blessings. Pray the same blessings you pray over yourself for those who hurt you. At first, I didn’t mean the promises I prayed over these people. I recited these lines and asked the Lord to help me believe the words I was praying over each of them. One day, as I was praying, I realized that I truly longed for those people to experience the truth I was praying over them. Romans 12:14 says, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them” (ESV).
I began blessing people and seeking God’s blessing for their lives, and in so doing, I experienced heart level transformation in my own life towards people who hurt and wronged me.
Intercessory worship. Intercessory worship is the intentional pursuit of praise on behalf of another person. Throughout the Scriptures, song signifies glory and praise. What if we take those who persecute us and intentionally bring them into glory and praise in our lives?
Prayer has the ability to transform lives and move mountains. James 5:16 tells us, “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results” (NLT). If we prevail in prayer over those who are our enemies, we experience true freedom.
Haley is a Colorado native who loves sunshine, adventuring with friends and reading a good book. She is an avid connoisseur of local coffeeshops and taco restaurants. Haley longs to see women experience God's freedom and find purpose in their lives. Writing and prayer have helped Haley navigate the turbulent waters of life, and she longs to partner with women as they seek the Lord in their daily lives.
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