Find a quiet time and place to pray… take a few deep breaths…
be still… and know that God is near…
A word to reflect on:
“You have heard that it was said,
You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
But I say to you, love your enemies,
and pray for those who persecute you…
– Matthew 5
(Before moving on to the reflection below,
spend some quiet time with the scripture verse above…)
Lord, sometimes it’s difficult enough to love my neighbor
(and I often fail in that)
but here you are asking me to love me enemy…
You’re asking for a lot here, Lord.
And although I may not have real enemies,
there are people in my life who have harmed me, hurt me,
rejected, betrayed and abandoned me:
and these you ask me to love?
Oh, Lord, I have so many ways
to justify not loving these people, so many ways:
“It’s not my fault… I didn’t do anything… He started it…
She won’t say she’s sorry… It’s too much to forgive…
I’m only human…”
But you ask for the whole of my heart,
not just a piece or a part of it
and I can’t give you a heart
where I’ve made room for hate and prejudice,
anger and envy,
a heart that nurses grudges and resentments…
My heart needs healing and mending;
my heart needs compassion and mercy:
soften the hardness of my heart
with the heart you have for me, Lord…
What I find so hard to accept, Lord,
is how you love those who hate me,
how you love those who have hurt me…
How do you do that, Lord?
Why do you do that?
Is it because your love is so much greater, deeper,
and wider than my own?
Yes, of course.
But I know, too, that you see something in my enemies
that I, in my blindness, miss.
You love something within them that I fail to see
or perhaps something I don’t even look for…
Truth be told, Lord: you love my enemies
just as you love me!
You love me in spite of my sins, small and large.
You love me in spite of my indifference,
my selfishness, my spiritual laziness.
You love me in spite of my hard-heartedness.
You love me in spite of my failure to love you in return,
in spite of my failing to love others
as I am loved by you…
You call me to love my neighbor and my enemy
with the love you have for me:
love that’s freely given, forgiving,
and filled with pardon and peace…
Help me to love and forgive as you do, Lord,
even to love and forgive, well,
you know who I’m thinking of…
Help me to see with the eyes of your heart, Lord,
and to find what you find lovable
in those who have hurt me…
Let me see them in the palm of your hand,
where you hold me, too,
and teach me to forgive and to love them
as you love and forgive me…
In the quiet of my prayer, Lord, give me pause
to look upon the people I don’t love,
whom I ignore and avoid, disdain and reject,
and open my heart to them as you open yours to me…
In spite of how they’ve offended me,
help me see in each of them what you see:
a reflection of you, our Creator,
who love all the works of your hand…
Cleanse my heart of hate, Lord; sweep away
what keeps me in my sins
and keeps me from loving my enemy
who was, after all, once my neighbor…
If I bar anyone from my heart, I bar you, Lord,
and my heart will only be at peace
when I welcome all as you have welcomed me…
In my prayer today, Lord,
help me name the ones I need to forgive
and give me the grace to open my heart
as you have opened yours to me…
To ponder and pray over…
Who are my enemies?
How have I barred them from my heart?
How often has the Lord forgiven me?
Will I pray for the grace to love as I’ve been loved by God?
to forgive as I’ve been forgiven?
What will I ask of the Lord today?
From this prayer time, what word or phrase will I keep with me
to carry through the rest of my day?
(After you spend some time with these questions,
pray the reflection above one more time…)
-The Concord Pastor