Praying for People You Dislike

March 12, 2022

“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you… For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” —Matthew 5:44, 46

I pride myself on having no enemies, but there are some people in my life I don’t especially like. There is one in particular that I have a strong and active dislike for—I’ll call her Amy. I can’t put my finger on why, but Amy rubs me the wrong way every single time we have an interaction: in person, in groups together, or via email or text. After we have an exchange, I sometimes ruminate about it for hours, and I have a hard time stopping myself from replaying the interaction. Amy has been in my life for eight years now, and because we move in some of the same circles, it looks like she’ll be staying in my life for a long time to come.

Sometimes I think that if I can just cut down on our interactions or avoid thinking about Amy when I’m not around her, I can get over my dislike. When I read this Gospel passage, though, I know that is just a cop-out. The fact is, I have avoided her sometimes but still managed to feel judgmental. That’s not loving her.

Clearly, I can’t heal myself from my negativity towards her. I need to take Jesus seriously now and turn this relationship over to God for healing. What better time than this Lent to pray specifically for Amy every time she crosses my mind? I don’t even need to know how to pray for her. I can trust that God knows what we each need in this relationship. It’s your turn now, God.

For Action: Who are your enemies or who rubs you the wrong way? Pray for them today, that God will give them whatever they need. Pray also that God will free you of what keeps you imprisoned to them.

To Pray: Lord, I can’t make myself feel love toward someone. Soften my heart and heal me to be free of any negativity I have towards others.