[O]ne of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray…” – Luke 11:1
Two weeks ago I wrote about my decision to pray for Donald Trump as a way to respond lovingly to a person who I find difficult. Last week I wrote about the practice of praying for Trump helping me feel more connected to those I don’t agree with politically and less isolated. This week I want to write about how to pray for people who are difficult.
I don’t always know what to say when I pray. I know I’m not alone! The disciples asked Jesus how to pray, and he taught them what we refer to as “The Lord’s Prayer.” Also, Paul writes in Romans 8:26, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” Paul assures us that even when we don’t know what to say, the spirit can search our heart and translate our prayers to God. How cool! So, if you don’t know what to pray, it’s ok to sit quietly for a few minutes and ask the spirit to help you.
Another prayer that I learned from a pastor that I follow from Atlanta, Andy Stanley, goes something like this: “God, give me the wisdom to know what to do and the courage to do it.” I pray this prayer a lot, and it translates well to praying for others, especially those in leadership roles. I have certainly prayed this recently for both of the major presidential candidates. God, give these individuals the wisdom to know what to do and the courage to do it.
Finally, I want to leave you with a prayer that is meant to create a sense of peace and tranquility as well as love, compassion, and connectedness with others. Last year, my pastor taught our congregation a prayer that she had recently learned from attending a women’s group. It’s called the Prayer of Loving Kindness. The prayer is a traditional Buddhist blessing that can be said for oneself or others. The idea of “loving kindness” or love occurs more than 250 times in scripture, making this prayer harmonious with Christian teaching.
Here is how to practice with one version of the prayer:
Find a quiet place to sit comfortably. Repeat the words below slowly in your mind:
May I be safe and protected.
May I be happy and whole.
May I be at peace.
May I be loved.
First pray for yourself, repeating the prayer several times. Second, pray for a loved one, thirdly for a stranger, fourthly for a difficult person, and, finally, for the world. Repeat the prayer several times for each person before moving on.
Our pastor shared that this prayer had filled her with a level of compassion for the world that she hadn’t previously felt. I don’t always remember to pray this prayer, but when I do I feel similarly. So I wanted to pass it on to you.
What prayers have you learned that you use when you don’t know what to pray or when you’re praying about a difficult situation or person? Have you tried the Prayer of Loving Kindness? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. And thanks for reading!