Praying Blessings Over Your Enemies

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse… Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

Romans 12:14, 17-19

It was early on a quiet Sunday morning. I was nestled comfortably in my chair listening to the rain lightly falling and birds chirping outside with the anticipation of spring’s arrival. I had been studying the sixth commandment that week about not murdering and reflecting on the depth of the command going deeper, addressing the issue of anger. My study led me to Romans 12, and I read the words, “Bless those who persecute you.” 

Wait, what?!!

The Holy Spirit whispered, “I want you to go beyond just praying FOR them and pray for me to bless them.”

Suddenly, I was not comfortable anymore. His words caused my eyes to sting with tears and my human thought-response to scream, “No! That’s not fair!” In recent years, I have learned to pray for my enemies in a way that earnestly requests that their eyes be opened to the workings of the Lord. I haven’t always been perfect and have definitely failed, but He has been so patiently teaching me to go to Him in prayer rather than lash out at or about my enemies.

However, now the Lord was asking me to take this further. He was asking for me to love them so deeply that I prayed for blessings in their lives, despite how they treated me. 

This familiar nudging of the Holy Spirit is difficult, but precious, isn’t it? It is a great reminder of our daily responsibility to deny ourselves, follow Him, and do the hard things that our flesh vehemently opposes. As long as I’m in human form, I will struggle with this, but I’ve been blessed with so many opportunities to continually practice what the Word and the Holy Spirit has shown me. 

This passage gives us multiple points to consider and they are in direct opposition to what culture screams at us to do. Rather than having a “they get what they deserve” mentality, Christ is asking us not to repay evil for evil. Rather than telling everyone who will listen what our enemy did to us, Christ is asking us to talk to Him instead. And not only talk to Him about it, but to also pray for them earnestly, with love.  Rather than taking revenge into our own hands, He’s asking us to leave it in His. 

So when you find yourself in a situation where you have been hurt by someone, it’s important to remember that Jesus loves them just as much as He loves you. It’s important to remember that hurting people hurt people. And as much as you want to retaliate, Jesus asks you to simply love and leave everything else up to Him. 

It’s hard, isn’t it? It’s against our very nature. But that is a HUGE clue that it’s the right thing to do. 

I also know how easy it is to make excuses for “your” situation. You may be reading this thinking, “Yeah, but ___________”. I want to encourage you to recognize that our real enemy wants nothing else than for you to believe your situation is different, and that in your own self-justification, it is okay for you to take matters into your own hands. 

Does this mean we never say anything to those who have and are hurting us? Not at all. But it is important to really dig down deep to determine the motive behind any tough conversation you want to have. If the motive is righteous and handled in the right way, follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. However, honest dialogue when prompted and led by the Holy Spirit is not what this passage refers to. This passage is referring to taking matters into your own hands and purposefully getting back at someone by lashing out in anger. 

Back to my story. I didn’t want to and didn’t feel it, but I did pray for my enemies to be blessed. And I prayed for them by name.  I also remembered that I am in great need of a Savior, too, and prayed for my love for my enemies to be deepened to the point of this prayer going beyond just obedience to truly wanting them to be blessed. 

I desperately need Jesus to constantly refine me in this area. In what ways do you need refining? 

Narrowing Focus

Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze straight before you.

Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. 

Proverbs 4:25-26

I love Jesus. 

I want to be more elegant with my words, pack more of a punch with them, but quite simply, I love the One who has delivered me from a life of sin, redeemed me, and is transforming me into His likeness. If you personally know me, you’ve likely heard me talk about Him and seen me tear up in gratitude. 

I don’t ever want to lose the tenderness I feel towards my Father. I don’t ever want to forget what He’s done in my past, fail to see what He’s doing in my present, or trust that He’s working all things out for my future. 

Because of this deep love for Him, oftentimes I find myself agreeing to do anything that could honor Him. I long to serve Him and sometimes get in over my head with the number of things I commit to. He has been showing me that part of the reason for my unbridled “yes” is because there is a hidden reason of wanting to earn His love and make up for a past that was not pleasing to Him. And He is only asking me to BE WITH HIM. There is nothing I can do to make Him love me more – He loves me just as I am. 

So for 2022, my word of the year came easily. I knew what it would be months ago because of what He had been showing me in this area. 


To start the year, I gave up a few things that I was doing for Him, in service of being more flexible to His daily calling. It was heartbreaking because I really enjoyed my other ministries and knew that He worked through those, too. But I realize that if I am ever to be my best at anything, I have to stop having my foot in too many things. 

This is part of my personality. Sometimes it’s because of the people pleaser in me; sometimes it’s because of just wanting to do all I can for Him, but I get easily distracted. 

If Satan can’t reach me anymore by tempting me with obvious sin, he’s going to try to get me to do so much for God that I can’t be successful at anything because I’m stretched too thin. 

So for this year, I am narrowing my focus to a few things that He is calling me to put my time and energy into, with a flexible and open mind that there may be great adventures (good or seemingly bad) that I will go on with Him and that I never knew were coming. Seeking Him daily is the only way to know where He will lead. 

I would like to encourage you to do some soul searching and seek God in your own life. If you have yet to live a life of daily surrender to Him, start there. Just BE with Him daily and get into a routine of inviting Him to open up your eyes to the great adventure He’s leading you on. If He is calling you to serve Him in some capacity, get out there and do it! If you’re one like me who has a tendency to do too much, for whatever reason, figure out where your focus should be and be content there. I believe we will find that the outcome is going to be far more influential if we focus on a few things to do well, rather than trying to take on as much as we can cram into a day. 

What is He calling you to focus on this year? Be brave and take the first step, then the next. He will be with you as you journey together through the good and the bad, working all things out in ways you likely never imagined! 

The Illusion of a Perfect Reputation

They had an affair. They made a choice to abandon their vows made to someone else and to God, and to live a secret life outside of their marriage. She was caught in a web of sin and lies she didn’t want to be in and felt a deep level of conviction. Wanting to confess and get out of it, the pull of his claim to love her more than any other ever could, and the lie she believed about this being “God’s will”, was too strong. 

He was a youth pastor and highly influential in the lives of many teenagers, and he used that fact to keep her quiet about their indiscretions. He insisted that his reputation would be ruined, his witness would be tarnished, and the teenagers he’d led over the years might turn away from God because of his actions. 

As I think about this illustration, I am reminded of the dangerous web of lies that Satan can spin, directing a person’s inner dialogue to cover up the sin rather than confess and expose it, and even making it something that sounds spiritual. 

It’s all lies. He is the father of lies and is not capable of speaking the truth.

Reputation is a powerful thing and losing one’s good reputation can really hurt other people. Right? But here is where we make the biggest mistake – it’s not really our reputation being ruined that hurts other people (and ourselves). It’s the sin itself. And when we cover up our sin to protect our reputation, we elevate ourselves to the level of God and believe that we have the power to influence others with a false pretense of spirituality. What we are actually doing is directing others AWAY from God and towards us.

James 5:16 tells us to “confess our sins to one another and pray for one another, that we may be healed.” Nowhere in scripture does it instruct us to cover up a life of sin, pretending to be perfect in an effort to protect our reputation and witness. 

We are flawed, by human nature, simply because we exist. If we truly follow Jesus, we will do everything possible to lay down our life of sin daily and live only in the light of grace. But we still fail. 

There are two ways we can approach our fallen nature:

  1. Turn the spotlight on Jesus. Being authentic about our sin nature and living a life of continuing to turn back to Jesus points people to Him, and shines the light on what He has done for us – how good He is. This approach daily leads us away from our sin nature and continually back to Him.
  1. Turn the spotlight on us. Covering up our sin nature and continuing to live that life while protecting our reputation shines a light on how good we supposedly are. This approach leads us further into sin, further into the web of lies, and further away from Christ. 

Which way do you approach your fallen nature? 

It is so very difficult to confess sin, but James tells us it is the only way towards healing. Confessing and praying for one another is the key to finding freedom from the sin that binds us. 

Sometimes, we don’t want to change, and would rather pretend we are following Jesus so that we can keep doing what we are doing. If that is the case, pray today that God gives you the authentic desire to deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Him. Once that desire is in place and you choose to follow Him, make the decision to live an authentic life. Be honest about the pull of your flesh, and your testimony will then be about the grace and mercy of a Father who laid down His life so that our sins be covered. Let Him do the covering up of our sin, and then you will find yourself in a position to be a true witness of the power of Jesus.

Facing the Pain, Again

Brokenness. It affects us all at some point in our lives, doesn’t it? Whether it’s from things we have done or things others have done to us, we fight against wounds that are present. Sometimes, those wounds lay deep and are scabbed over, almost forgotten, a semblance of progression of healing. Other times, for various reasons, the wounds feel as if they’ve surfaced again, open and gaping.

I have dreams to remind me of my brokenness. Awake, I am constantly seeking my Lord and directing my thoughts toward Him. He is my rock and my salvation and a constant source of comfort. I feel safe in His embrace, whole in His presence. But when my thoughts are bound by sleep, and I lose the ability to consciously run to Him, my dreams can be tormenting. They remind me of the wounds I have from a past filled with hurt. 

Over the last six months, my anxious and fear-ridden dreams returned, after mostly eluding me for years. It has been difficult trying to figure out why they have come back to haunt me. But God has given me the tools to be able to address them, and now that I’m on the other side of them (and finally sleeping in peace again, praise Jesus), I am coming to an understanding of why they have returned. I may feel strong and whole, but there is still an area of my life that needs complete emotional healing. Unresolved pain, not from lack of effort, still has me in its grips. It’s been uncovered again and brought to the surface, and I am facing it only with the strength He gives me. 

In my brokenness, God reminds me that I daily need Him for wholeness. It’s a blessing in disguise, really, because of my human nature to want to present myself as having it all together. The reality is, I don’t, and I desperately need Him. 

So today, after a bout of tears hit me unexpectedly during my time with my heavenly Father, I pleaded with Him to continue healing me and to take away the pain I feel from a lifetime ago – to once and for all heal the wounds that continue to gape open. 

We have a tendency to believe that if we don’t think about our pain, if we order our lives so that we’re not reminded of it, if we put up thick walls so that others can’t get in, then that is healing. That is NOT HEALING. That is burial. And if you bury something that has life left in it (like unresolved pain), it will kick and fight and scratch to come back to the surface. When that happens, it leaves you feeling the same as you once did, discouraged because you think it will always be there. And you have two choices. Bury it again (to surely surface again later) or face the pain and do what is needed for continued healing. 

What pain do you still have from years ago? What healing do you need? I encourage you to stay on your face before God. Realize that we need Him daily. Thank Him for the blessing of His sustaining love. Follow His lead in getting the help you need. Get into counseling. 

Don’t just bury it. Uncover it – and give it to God again.

Our brokenness is actually a blessing! It keeps us in a humble posture before God, so that He can use us to our full potential for His Kingdom. So through it all, thank God for the opportunity to remember how much we daily need Him and carry on doing His most important work. 

Be blessed friends,


Loving our Rival

Love is not rude, is not selfish, and does not get upset with others. Love does not count up wrongs that have been done. Love takes no pleasure in evil but rejoices over the truth. Love patiently accepts all things. It always trusts, always hopes, and always endures.

I Corinthians 13:5-7

Every year, we start the football season with a rival game. History has proven that this one game a year has a tendency to bring out some very ugly behavior starting a few days before and going through the game and after. I’ve watched over the years as even adults on social media roast the opposing crowds and students, seeing only the worst; and praise their own crowd and students, seeing only the best. Although I’ve lived in one of the two towns for 8 years now (let’s call it town A, only because it’s where I live), I wasn’t born and raised here and still have a tendency to be able to view it at least somewhat impartially. The rival town B is just a few miles away so I have many friends from both. 

This year, after the game, there were a group of students from town A who stayed after the game to help clean up the stands for the host school located in town B. They were praised and called out as being wonderful human beings, and rightly so! I’ve seen similar posts from town B about their students in recent years as well. Isn’t it just wonderful when we see good works praised? 

This whole dynamic has me thinking about our uncanny ability to judge entire groups of people based on a small subset of that group, if we want to. When it’s the group we are a part of, it’s easy to highlight the subsets and say, “See? Our group is made up of a whole lot of people like these. Take the time to notice this.” When it’s the group we are not a part of, it’s easy to dismiss these subsets as only a select few and not the majority. 

The same is true of negative behavior. When it’s the group we are a part of, it’s easy to dismiss the bad actions of a subset and claim that this isn’t how we as a group are. When it’s the group we are not a part of, it’s easy to highlight the subset as proof that the other group is inherently ugly (the majority).

It’s similar to a typical family. We fight within our family but don’t you dare take one of us on or you have all of us to deal with. 

As a community, I think this is healthy to a point. How wonderful it is to be a part of a community who stands up for each other and truly believes they live in a wonderful place! However, when we choose to point out the subsets who behave badly in neighboring communities as proof that our community is superior, we are missing something. 

The loudest subsets are often either the worst acting groups or the groups that do something spectacularly out of the ordinary to perform acts of kindness. Either time, most of the time, these groups are the minority by a long shot and there exists a non-vocal majority who are living their quiet lives, being kind to a stranger, speaking words of life to others, and doing kind acts of service that are rarely noticed. 

I choose to believe that our communities are made up of the majority of people like this, even if it is town B. 

So what can we learn from this?

Praise the good, all of it, everywhere. There will always be the small subsets of people who raise a ruckus and do things they shouldn’t. We may even be a part of that group sometimes. But if we focus on the good and assume the best in others, we are going to be living out the love of Jesus. He died on a cross for the person or persons you are criticizing because they are so valuable to Him. Thankfully, their poor actions do not determine their value. 

Be thankful for your community, see the good in it and value that, but let’s be careful not to highlight the bad elsewhere to make us feel better about ourselves. Let’s choose to love our rival.