I’ve just finished teaching a 4-week Zoom course called “Love Your Enemy.” In the face of rising conflict here in Ethiopia, I decided to devote a month to studying what some of our greatest leaders have taught about loving people who hate us and want to harm us. We looked at Jesus, Howard Thurman, Martin Luther King Jr, and Arthur Brooks.
Wonderful participants joined the course from four continents and eight countries: Ethiopia, Uganda, Côte d’Ivoire, South Africa, the United States, Sweden, Finland, and the Philippines. As we studied together, we found that praying for our enemies is one of the most consistent and powerful practices of love that these leaders taught. Prayer interrupts and can uproot the enmity we feel toward others as we talk to God for their wellbeing.
Still, students asked what a prayer for enemies might actually say and sound like. In response, I’ve written a prayer for enemies that I want to share with you. I warmly invite you to adapt it and use as you seek to practice loving your enemies.
How do you pray for your enemies? I would love to hear and learn from you!
Thank you for stopping and thinking with me!
A Prayer for Enemies
You radically love others across boundaries, freely giving rain and sunshine and mercy. You are kind to the ungrateful and wicked. And you call me to live as your child and to radically love others across boundaries. I answer your call and turn to you in prayer for my enemies.
Open my eyes to the precious value of the other, regardless of what they may have said or done. Remind me that we are not truly enemies. We are both created and loved by you. Deliver me from demonizing, condemning attitudes and actions.
Open my eyes to the role I may be playing in this conflict. Has my ignorance, arrogance, or hatred contributed to our enmity? Increase my self-awareness, humility, and creative courage to admit wrong and seek reconciliation.
Open the other’s eyes to the role that they may be playing in this conflict. Increase their self-awareness, humility, and creative courage to admit wrong and seek reconciliation.
Regardless of who is right or wrong, give me the strength to love the other. Fill me with your love. Energize me to speak words of truth and peace, to practice acts of kindness and justice, to do what I can to honor them and heal our relationship. Deliver me from escalating our conflict.
Regardless of who is right or wrong, please bless my enemy-neighbors with love and the strength to love, with peace and the strength to make peace, with hope and the strength to give hope, with forgiveness and the strength to forgive, with wellbeing and the strength to make others well. May they come fully alive.
Your love gives all of us life and hope when we are powerless and undeserving. Empower us to love and do your will. In your mercy, hear our prayer, until all things on heaven and on earth are reconciled in your love.