Sunday, October 14, 2012
Can You Say A Prayer For Your Tormentor?
This is a difficult thing to consider. It can be an obscene question depending on what terrible thing is being done to a praying person. Praying for our tormentors is always possible, because prayer is without respect of persons. All things are possible through prayer. We can even pray for the strength and humility to be able to pray for our persecutors, harassers, oppressors, and others who may afflict us.
Some torment is absolutely horrific , and I am not minimizing the suffering of those in those situations. Often the suffering of children is unspeakable. If I was facing a child who had lived through an extended, monstrous situation, what could I ever say to him or her? What could I say to help that child feel that God cares, as he or she lay suffering near death?
My message comes back to me, and it is always the same: if possible find the strength to pray as good a prayer as possible for a tormentor. It doesn't have to mean that I agree, accept or condone what is happening, or what happened. It means that there was a price that was paid, both for the tormentor and the tormented. Jesus Christ paid the price equally for everyone, and this life is often unfair at various levels, for many of us. Some suffer in diverse ways their entire lives. Eventually though when it's all over, we will experience the rectifying of all injustice, including any injustices which each of us may have done. God is a very fair God, and he has provided for it all to be made right.
So whether the torment is light or heavy, moderate or intense, brief or extended, mental, emotional or physical, God can give us the strength to pray for our tormentors. When our first thought may be to curse our tormentors, and even to curse God, we can find the strength to pray for the afflictors.
Have you ever considered that you may have tormented someone unawares? Maybe a word or action that you did, without forethought or plan, hurt someone deeply in some way. Maybe your attitude towards someone has always been demeaning, degrading, or even offensive. Did you hurt a child to such a degree that that adult has never recovered? If you learned of it wouldn't you want that person to pray on your behalf? If you never became aware of it, wouldn't you hope that one day that person had the strength to pray on your behalf?
You may never see a change, in this world, after your prayer. It is possible that, before you breathe your last breath, that you may never be delivered from the circumstance of your torment. The person you pray for may never know that they did or are doing something that is causing you great pain. He or she may be intent on purposely oppressing you, and may not ever care how you feel. Praying for your tormentor does not bring with it the promise of proof that the tormentor has changed. You will have peace though that you've done the right thing.
Our prayers for our tormentors will matter one day, if we continue to believe.
Bless those who persecute you; bless, and don't curse. (Romans 12:14 World English Bible)
Image Credit: NCBrian