Have you ever been purposefully hurt by another person? Be it verbal, physical, emotional, it all hurts us down to our core. Sometimes it can even be accidental, yet when we are hurt by another person we can tend to see everything as purposeful.
I don’t know about you, but in these situations, my natural response is generally to strike back. My prideful nature prompts me to “get them back” and return hurt for hurt (eye for an eye). I can quickly jump into all sorts of vengeful, resentful thoughts when someone hurts me.
How can you pray for someone who treats you so bad?
Jesus instructs us to take a radical and counter-cultural response when it comes to dealing with those who hurt us. Let’s take a look at how we are called to respond and dive into the realities of what it means to pray for those who persecute you.
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What Does the Bible Say About Praying for Those Who Persecute You
In Luke chapter 6, we get one of the most challenging teachings of Jesus in the whole Bible. It isn’t challenging in the sense of being hard to comprehend the meaning like in some of the parables. Nor is it challenging to understand because of vastly different cultural contexts. Rather, it is challenging by the very nature of what it asks us to do.
But I say to you who listen: Love your enemies, do what is good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If anyone hits you on the cheek, offer the other also, And if anyone takes away your coat, don’t hold back your shirt either. Give to everyone who asks you, and from one who takes your things, don’t ask for them back. Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them.” Luke 6:27-31 (HCSB)
See what I mean? This passage is easy to comprehend, but our whole being presses on us the difficulty of actually living in this way. Just as quickly as we can think of ways we can get better at this way of treating people, we also can think up excuses as to why our less loving behavior was (or still is) justified.
Why Should I Love My Enemies
So you are probably thinking who on earth wants to love their enemies and bless those who curse them? Like I said above, our natural inclination is to retaliate against those who hurt us. Yet, only the disciples of Jesus, led by the Holy Spirit, can bless and turn away from their initial response to retaliate with all their might.
When someone treats you poorly, you have a choice. You can do it your way or we can do it in God’s way. Thankfully, we have the perfect example of what it means to live this out.
For you were called to this, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in His steps. He did not commit sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth; when He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He was suffering, He did not threaten but entrusted Himself to the One who judges justly.” 1 Peter 2:21-23
God the Father planned to rescue us from our sin before the foundation of the world. In the Old Testament, He laid out the commandments and laws for the Israelites and entered into a covenant with them in which they were able to have their sins forgiven and be reconciled to God through a system of sacrifices.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. Be in agreement with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Try to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:14-18
However, God’s ultimate plan was to completely save us from our sins through the ultimate sacrifice. In order to do this, God sent His Son, Jesus, to purchase our forgiveness and redemption by laying down His life on the cross. And God the Spirit overcame our pride and opened our eyes to see the authority of Jesus and His righteousness over all things.
And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.” Ephesians 4:32
Jesus is able to give us such a challenging directive of loving those who hate us because He actually practiced what He preached. He died on the cross willingly for those who hated Him, even those who were actively killing Him. Our life is made new because of the undeserved mercy of being blessed by Jesus when we were his enemy.
- Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them because they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided His clothes and cast lots.” Luke 23:34
- …not paying back evil for evil or insult for insult but, on the contrary, giving a blessing, since you were called for this so that you can inherit a blessing.” 1 Peter 3:9
- Christ is the perfect example of loving those who persecute you, going so far as to lay down His own life. We must learn to imitate this self-sacrificing love if we want to be able to show those that curse us His love. When we understand that Christ is our full source of contentment and security, we will be motivated to bless those who curse us because their hurt does not define us. If you see and savor the mercy we have in Christ, you will seek to be merciful towards others.
How Do You Bless Someone Who Hurt You
I think we can all agree that blessing someone that has hurt you isn't easy. Nor is it a natural response! Our immediate thought is to lash back at them or cause them similar pain. But that is definitely NOT what God calls us to do!
Instead of lashing out, we can:
- Fix our eyes back to Jesus
- Offer love and Grace
- Pray for our our persecutors
Bless Your Persecutor by Fixing Your Eyes on Jesus
When we get hurt by someone, it seems our entire focus becomes them and what they did to us. When this happens, we are so focused on THEM and less focused on the only one who really matters – Jesus!
Ask yourself “What would Jesus do?”
This is the time to meditate on God's Word. This will help you in making sure your heart is where it should be.
By putting our eyes back on Him, we can rely on the truth of God’s word and “it will lead to an opportunity for you to witness” (Luke 21:13). We can respond with anger or we can demonstrate the grace and mercy that God showed us through Jesus on the cross. “For I will give you the words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict” (Luke 21:15).
Even in the midst of imprisonment, Paul used his situation to share the gospel (see Philippians 1:12-13). It didn’t matter where he was, Paul used his circumstances as an opportunity to preach the good news of the Gospel.
While his commitment to Christ led to his arrest, Paul used his imprisonment and persecution in the cause of Christ. In spite of all that had been done to him, he preached lovingly. Paul’s difficult circumstances led to new opportunities for gospel witnesses.
By standing firm and sharing the Gospel, especially in the hard times, you will see Jesus Christ continue to bring about His good work in you, and others, to completion.
Bless Your Persecutor with Love and Grace
Apart from God’s immeasurable grace, you will not be able to truly love your enemies. Our response to those who persecute us shows the nature of our hearts. Christ’s disciples are to be characterized by actions of love – loving our enemies, doing good to those who hate us, blessing those who curse us, praying for those who mistreat us, and not retaliating against violence.
You should bless those who persecute you by offering them the same love and grace that Jesus first gave you!
We are called to be image-bearers of Jesus, blessing those who curse us. We are returning blessing for cursing and committing ourselves to Heavenly Father’s care. Faith in Christ and embracing His love will allow us to bless those who persecute us.
He commissions us to act with love, kindness, and generosity towards all – even those who persecute us. He calls us to bless those who curse us and be a light into their lives. He wants us to love others as He does!
Remember that once upon a time we cursed God yet He forgave us. And He chooses to use even those who have cursed Him for His good. Think about it…how did God deal with us when we were in our sin? Did He extend His grace and mercy? Yes! He sent His Son to die for us, showing us mercy when we deserved wrath.
The ability to bless those who persecute us is a gift from God. We can not do this on our own. We must look to God to help us long for their everlasting salvation. Blessing those who persecute us reflects the goodness and righteousness of God. It reflects His love and mercy. A blessing has the potential to accomplish the greater good.
Put your faith in God and His love for both you and the offender. If we bless those who hurt us and love our enemies, God will take full responsibility for whatever should be administered to the persecutors. It is not our job to judge or condemn but to love even the ones that hurt us. And speaking words of blessing is one way to do that.
Pray for Those Who Persecute You
Prayer is an attitude of the heart. Praying a prayer of blessing over a persecutor is a tall order. But every time you do it, you will find your heart being changed into one more like Christ.
Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” Luke 6:28
The bitterness and anger you held will be released. Ask God to give you grace and forgiveness for those who hurt you and release them from bitterness in your heart. You can choose to forgive and seek blessings for even your enemies instead of being bitter and cursing others.
Thank God for His power to redeem the situations that hurt you the most.
Where in the Bible Does it Say to Pray for Those Who Persecute You?
The Bible has one very clear verse about praying for those who persecute us. Jesus gives his disciples clear guidance on taking a new direction from the past in how they are to deal with others who treat them bad.
You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, Matthew 5:43-44
In the end, God’s goodness will prevail over evil. When Christians respond to their enemies with love and prayer, evil will not stand a chance. You must pray for those who persecute you and release them to God. He is the ultimate judge of each person’s actions and he knows their heart.
We must trust that God is righteous. Ultimately, we can trust in God that those who have persecuted us will see their day before Him, just as we will. Therefore we can release the burden of holding on to bitterness, and give our burdens to God.