25 March 2008

Prayer for Enemies and Persecutors

O Lord Jesus Christ, only begotten Son of God, in Your Word, You have prescribed for us this rule of love: "Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you" (Matt 5:44). I pray also to You, the most generous forgiver of sins, for my enemies and for those who persecute the church. Give me the grace of Your Holy Spirit so that I not only forgive my enemies from the heart, but also heartily pray for their salvation. Do not sharpen over them the stern sword of revenge; instead, anoint their heads with the oil of mercy. Extinguish in their hearts the hot ashes of wrath and hatred so that they do not flame up into the infernal fires of hell. May they recognize that life is quickly dissipating vapor and smoke (James 4:14), our bodies fleeting ashes and dust (Sirach 10:9). Then in their mortal bodies they will not bear immortal wrath nor receive the enemy of their souls into the feeble home of their earthen body.

May they recognize that this deep-seated hatred is their greatest enemy because it kills the soul and excludes them from participation in heavenly life. Enlighten their minds so they gaze into the mirror of divine mercy and recognize the ugliness of anger and hatred. Direct their wills so they are moved by teh example of divine forgiveness and resist the inclination to be angry and to injure. Graciously allow that, as much as it depend on me, I may live peacefully with all people. Turn the hearts of my enemies to reconciliation. May we walk harmoniously on the path of this life because we hope for one place in the heavenly kingdom. May we not be separated on earth because we desire to live as one in heaven. We call on You, the one Lord and God of heaven. It is by no means right that servants of the one Lord are not united. We are only mystical body under Christ the Head. For members of one body to fight one another is disgraceful and dishonorable. For those whose faith is one, and whose Baptism is one, it is fitting that they be one in body and soul.

--Blessed Johann Gerhard *Meditations on Divine Mercy* pp. 146,147


Rev. Larry Wright said...

Great Gospel from Gerhard!!!

Interested in some "Law" from Luther? ;-) AELW3:281

"In the accounts of the Greeks there is a story about a certain Amyris, a citizen of Sybaris. He had seen that a slave, who had been dragged away from an altar by his owner, sought refuge at the tomb of the latter’s father. There the owner, moved by reverence for his father’s tomb, spared the slave. Since Amyris considered it disgraceful that reverence for the tomb was greater than for the altar, he sold everything he had and went away to the Peloponnesus from the then rich and flourishing city of Sybaris, because he concluded that certain punishment would result from such practices. Because of this action he seemed mad to his fellow citizens; but he himself obtained a most excellent return from this madness of his, for Sybaris was shortly thereafter destroyed. Hence one should note that when sins are continually prevalent, the wrath of God must come. Therefore let those who hold an office or are officers of the state do their duty, and let them not wink at any offense, however small. But if iniquity prevails, let them flee, lest they become partakers of the sins of others."

SJB said...

Amen and a special thanks to you, Sir Weedon.

Anonymous said...

On a wierd side note - I am more and more convince that the 20th century Roman Catholic saint, St. Faustina plagarized Johann Gerhard.

William Weedon said...

No she didn't; it's just that they both drank and drew water for us from the same fountain.

Anonymous said...

I was joking :)
I am more and more convinced of that, what you wrote.

"For the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world"

We all need that water - when I am thirsty, he bids me go, where the quiet waters flow.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...


It doesn't seem like a prayer for one's enemies ought to include the assertion/accusation that their hearts are full of wrath and hatred...or the assumption that I am totally innocent concerning whatever may have provoked such a person...

William Weedon said...

Is not the Christian definition of the enemy, the one who hates us? It cannot be the one we hate, for we are forbidden to hate any. Trust me, the book is FULL of accusations against self - those are in the confessions of sin sections. Nor is it always the case the hatred is aroused by sinful actions on our part (though it may be at times). Those who hated the Apostles and martyred them, were not stirred up to hatred by anything other than the Gospel they shared.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

First time I ever went to confession, it wasn't the actual Sacrament, as I was not yet Orthdox. But I had some grievous things of which to repent, and when I had finished, to my utter astonishment, the prayer the priest-monk said over me began with, "If Thy servant has in any way offended Thee, or if she..." IF? I had just told him plenty of ways in which I had undoubtedly sinned! But he was being resolutely non-judgmental, a form of love and of humility that melted me into a puddle of grateful tears.

We can pray for "those who hate us" without specifying who they may be. Or we may pray for those who despitefully use us, but without presuming to judge their hearts. (And without indulging ourselves by dwelling upon what we expect will happen to them if they do not reconcile with us!) We don't need to define our enemies to pray for them.

You're right that hatred is not always aroused by sinful actions on or part, but surely our prayer ought to acknowledge that our own sins *may* perhaps have played a part, whether or not we are aware of the fact, or even of how or in what we offended. One never knows. But it's part of applying "best construction" to what others have done to us. It's also part of facing reality.

So gracious of you to post this prayer at this time and in this context, and I hope many people will pray it. But I'd bet you Lutherans have a better prayer than this, somewhere, for ones enemies.

SJB said...

Am I wrong to view enemies as Satan and the powers of darkness? It seems to me that as Saint Paul says:

"For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places"

I guess I've always thought this is what it means to pray against my enemies (Satan). Satan is the enemy of anyone treating me or others badly too and they need to be delivered from his hands, to repent, receive salvation, and etc. The people acting like an enemy just don't realize this is the case?