How to pray for your enemies
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a radical one. Not only did he say that we must “love our neighbor as ourselves” but need to love our enemies as well.
You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48)
It is a powerful passage, one that challenges us to go beyond ourselves and love those in the world who wish us harm.
Yet, it is a necessary part of living a Christian life. Jesus set the example, saying as he stretched out his arms on the cross, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:24).
Pope Francis sees this as a particular key for holiness, explaining in a homily, “Pray for the one who hurts me? … Yes, because it changes lives … This is holiness. A man and a woman who do this deserve to be canonized: they become saints. So simple is the Christian life.”
Above, this ability to pray for one’s enemies is a gift of grace, something we must ask for from God. It is certainly not something that comes naturally to us humans, but is a supernatural gift that comes from the Holy Spirit.
St. Thomas More, a man who had many enemies during his lifetime, composed a prayer that helps cultivate a merciful heart, one that asks God’s grace to come down on a person’s enemies.
Here is the prayer that he wrote, a prayer that we can all incorporate into our lives, praying that we will be united with our enemies in heaven, forever rejoicing in the glory of God.
Almighty God, have mercy all that bear me evil and would me harm, and on their faults and mine together, by such easy, tender, merciful means, as thine infinite wisdom best can devise; vouchsafe to amend and redress and make us saved souls in heaven together, where we may ever live and love together with thee and thy blessed saints, O glorious Trinity, for the bitter passion of our sweet Savior Christ. Amen.
God, give me patience in tribulation and grace in everything, to conform my will to Thine, that I may truly say: “Fiat voluntas tua, sicut in coelo et in terra.”
The things, good Lord, that I pray for, give me Thy grace to labor for. Amen.