Bitterness festers. It’s like that sore tooth you can’t quit poking. You know it’s sore and swollen, but you keep nudging it with your tongue, trying to see if it still hurts. Unforgiveness can be the same way. Unchecked, unforgiveness hardens and grows, sprouting judgment, accusations, and bitterness.
We know this. And yet blessing our enemies still seems like a step too far. Isn’t it enough that we’ve forgiven and trusted God for justice? Do we actually have to pray blessings on them?
We bless our enemies because blessing is the antidote to bitterness. Blessing keeps our souls from going sour; it throws open the windows so the wind of the Spirit can rush in. Blessing is the final step on our road to forgiveness and healing.
Why do we bless our enemies?
1. Because Jesus told us to.
Jesus told us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). It doesn’t come naturally to us. Like forgiveness, praying for those who persecute us is something we can only do by the Spirit’s power. The world tells us to curse our enemies and repay them blow for blow. Jesus tells us to bless them. Counter-intuitive? Yes. But blessing our enemies is actually a tool in our own healing. It changes us. We cannot pray for someone and maintain bitterness in our hearts toward them. Praying for our enemies opens the door for God to heal our own wounded hearts.
2. Because prayer is powerful.
Prayer makes a difference. Sometimes prayer can feel like a last resort–I can’t do anything else, so I might as well pray. But God tells us that the prayer of the righteous are powerful and effective (James 5:16). Prayer is warfare. Prayer brings the Spirit’s power into our circumstances, manifesting the kingdom among us. We may not always be able to go charging into conflict on our own, but in prayer we can confront the spiritual realities behind our struggles and see transformation.
3. Because blessing overcomes evil with good.
If we return wrong for wrong, all we get is a bigger mess. We don’t overcome evil with evil. We overcome evil with good (Romans 12:17-21). Continuing in attitudes of judgment and accusation toward others does nothing but harden our hearts and keep us trapped in the cycle of resentment. Blessing breaks the cycle and allows God to use us as agents of transformation.
Blessing our enemies is about agreeing with God’s intentions toward them. It’s not about asking God to shower them with rainbow colored unicorns. Instead, we are able to bless those who have hurt us by asking God to show us his heart and purposes for those individuals, then agreeing with those things in prayer. It might look like this:
- Lord, give him a repentant heart.
- Help her speak with kindness.
- I can only imagine that he’s doing this because he has been deeply hurt. Heal those broken places, Father.
- Give her the willingness to change.
- Be merciful toward her, Father.
- Lord, don’t let him hurt anyone else.
- Make his heart tender toward you, Jesus. Sensitize his spirit to hear your voice.
- Help her see and speak truth, Lord.
- May he fulfill the destiny you created him for.
- Jesus, overwhelm her with your love.
If you’re not sure where to start, ask God what he wants you to pray for this person. There may be a thought that comes to mind or a verse of Scripture may jump out to you during your devotions. Simply pray what God shows you. And remember that forgiveness is a layered process. You may not be there yet. Sometimes being willing to be willing is the best place to start. But there are always blessings in obedience. When we pray blessings on our enemies, it opens the door for God to bless us.
This post is the last of a five post series on forgiveness:
5 Steps to Forgiveness
- Acknowledge the pain.
- Invite Jesus in to heal.
- Ask God to help us see this situation and this person as he does.
- Relinquish our right to revenge and trust God to deal rightly.
- Pray blessings over the person who has hurt us.
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