All of us have them…that person(s) in our lives who irks us, upsets us, angers us, and hurts us. That person might even be someone who we see as competition for the love/affections of someone we love. Needless to say we all have experienced those times when it is very hard to “love our neighbor.”
Dealing with that person who seems to cause emotional upheavals in our lives can be daunting and frustrating. Often we give knee jerk responses that only seem to escalate the bad situation even more. Or we might go the route of totally ignoring that person’s existence – avoiding even thoughts of them at all costs. Most of us have tried a variety of different ways to respond/to behave towards that person who cause negative reactions within us so that we might have some freedom from the pain they cause us. That is a good start, but the only way to truly change is to have the Lord change your heart towards that person. That heart change begins when we pray for that person.
Here is an example of how praying for “that person” can change our hearts towards them:
There was a woman who had been having a multi-year affair. She knew adultery was wrong (on many levels), but seemed unable to end the affair. The woman never discussed how she felt about how her actions might affect the man’s wife or three children. In fact, she said that she simply put the man’s family out of her mind when they spent their time together – the whole “out of sight out of mind” ideology.
Then one day she sent the man a text inviting him to go out to a bar with her that evening. He responded that it would depend on how his wife was doing because she was having minor out-patient surgery in the morning. The woman asked what time his wife was going into surgery then she offered to pray for his wife. The man sent a text back saying that they were at the hospital at that very moment.
The woman began praying for his wife. As soon as she started praying everything changed! The glaring truth that this married man was texting his “other woman” to set up a rendezvous while his wife laid beside him in a hospital bed mortified her. His wife became “real” for her as soon as the first word of prayer left her lips.
The strength to cut things off with the man began to fill her. The Lord heard her prayers and her heart began its journey to change.
While not all heart changes are visible at first, choosing to pray for a person who is causing distress in your life will eventually change your heart. It might be a gradual change, but a change will occur. The other person might still say and do the things that they have always done, but the old distress that used to accompany their words/actions towards you will no longer affect you in the same way. You will find that your responses to the other person will evolve over time as you continue praying for them.
I encourage you the next time “that person” starts to irk, upset, anger, or hurt you that you start praying for them instead of reacting negatively. Open your heart to receive God’s love towards that person so that He might love them through you. I think you might be pleasantly surprised by all that God will do in your relationship with that person.