Pray for those Who Persecute You
“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.'” – Matthew 5:44
Jesus told me to love my enemies, but Buddhism taught me how.
Several years ago, I began meditating at a neighbor’s house. She holds a morning meditation every day for an hour. The rules are: Show up any time in the hour; and be silent until the bell rings. My friend is Buddhist, but she doesn’t care that I and others use Centering Prayer as our mediation practice. Occasionally, my friend brings a Buddhist practice or teaching to share after the meditation is finished, and sometimes I stay to learn.
One day, my friend led us in a Loving-Kindness Meditation. The practice is simple: Begin by directing loving-kindness toward yourself. Then toward people you love. Then toward people who are neutral (like the person to your left in a group, or your mail carrier if you’re meditating alone). Then direct your loving-kindness toward your enemies. Finally, direct it toward “all living beings.” By beginning with yourself, and moving through the cycle, it becomes easier to think of your enemy as just another being who needs compassion.’
My friend used a short phrase: “May I be happy. May I be well. May I be safe. May I be peaceful and at ease.” I’ve since modified the phrase, using language that is more biblical, and therefore more appropriate for my spirituality. That’s my prayer today.
God, grant me love. Grant me joy. Grant me peace. And grant me life abundant.
God, grant my family love. Grant my family joy. Grant my family peace. And grant my family life abundant.
God, grant my enemy love. Grant my enemy joy. Grant my enemy peace. And grant my enemy life abundant.
God, grant all your children love. Grant all your children joy. Grant all your children peace. And grant all your children life abundant.
Note: If you have trouble praying that your enemy have life abundant, you can pray that we all have what we need, and trust God to know what those needs are (even if you secretly think some of us need a kick in the pants). After all, it’s a practice, not a perfection.
Tyler Connoley is a UCC minister living and writing in St. Louis, Missouri. He is the coauthor of The Children Are Free: Re-examining the Biblical Evidence on Same-Sex Relationships, and is a speaker and retreat facilitator. @connoley