Thursday, May 19, 2022

The Final Test of Compassionate Prayer


(Redeemer Monroe

My unChristlike deficiency is seen in my struggle to forgive my enemies. "Enemy" means not only those who want to see me defeated, but those I dislike, those I am irritated with, those I look down on. At the top of my personal prayer list is the transformation of my heart that would increase my capacity to not only forgive others who have wounded me, but to love them, from the heart, as well. 

This, as I see things, is the Big One. 

Henri Nouwen writes,

"The final test of compassionate prayer goes beyond prayers for fellow Christians, members of the community, friends, and relatives. Jesus says it most unambiguously, “I say this to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44); and in the depth of his agony on the cross, he prays for those who are killing him, “Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Here the full significance of the discipline of prayer becomes visible. Prayer allows us to lead into the center of our hearts not only those who love us but also those who hate us. This is possible only when we are willing to make our enemies part of ourselves and thus convert them first of all in our own hearts."

See that last sentence? This is the love-of-Jesus part, which envisions, from our hearts, a flourishing, Christlike life, for those who are emotionally and physically killing us. As that happens, we will know the truth, and it will set us free.