Subject: praying for your enemies
Message: I was wondering about the command to ‘pray for your enemies and/or those that despitefully use you.’ What exactly are we supposed to pray for? I know someone who would fall into this category. I’m trying to forgive this person, and want to pray for him, but don’t exactly know what to ask for. I can’t ask the Lord to bless him, why should he get blessings from bad behavior? My husband says to pray to the Lord to bless him, but if he gets blessings for being the way he his, why would he be willing to change? If I ask the Lord to change his heart, am I praying for him or for myself? I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and I think the first step to erasing my own hard feelings for this person is to pray for him like the scriptures say, I just don’t know what I’m supposed to pray for
Enos, in the Book of Mormon, went into the woods and prayed that he would be forgiven of his sins. When he received forgiveness he then prayed for his family, the Nephites and finally for his enemies the Lamanites. This is found in Enos 1: 13 “And now behold, this was the desire which I desired of him—that if it should so be, that my people, the Nephites, should fall into transgression, and by any means be destroyed, and the Lamanites should not be destroyed, that the Lord God would preserve a record of my people, the Nephites; even if it so be by the power of his holy arm, that it might be brought forth at some future day unto the Lamanites, that, perhaps, they might be brought unto salvation.”
Elder Marvin J. Ashton in the Conference Report of April 1985 stated: “Very often the Twelve and the First Presidency pray together. When President Kimball takes his turn to be voice, he generally includes this phrase in his prayer: ‘Bless our enemies. Help us to understand them, and them to understand us.’ He doesn’t ask for vengeance or retaliation, just for understanding so differences can be resolved. Perhaps, family differences and neighborhood problems could be resolved if we would follow our prophet’s example and pray for patience and forgiveness.”
I think to pray for everyone’s hearts to be softened in a conflict would also be important. If we each think along these lines we can find it easier to pray for our enemies.