When driven to pray in the midst of hurt, the go-to prayer tends to be focused on hurtful people stopping their behavior so the pain for those being hurt will end. That is true, at least, for me. But, in my experience, every time I start praying that prayer, I am the one who ends up being changed.
Now, after so many experiences with this, when I find myself driven to pray for my pain from hurtful people to end and for hurtful people to change from hurting me, I hear the words of the right prayer in the back of my mind. Yet I’ve also noticed my resistance to praying the right words. I should be praying for God to change my perspective, but I don’t want to change my perspective. My flesh says changing my perspective isn’t fair. Why should my perspective have to change when it’s others who are engaging in wrong behavior?
The truth is, there will always be hurtful people who come my way who will never change. I can’t change them. Neither can God change them if they don’t want to change. But I can change. And God will change me if I let Him. As a matter of fact, God will use the pain from hurtful people to help facilitate my positive change—as long as I’m willing to pray the right words and submit to His change process.
Praying the right words requires humility, and I’m not usually very humble. Humbling myself is difficult—I’m weak in the humility department. I know when I’m right. And submitting to the change process when I know I’m right about someone else’s hurtful intent towards me makes anger rise up. My anger fights against humility. I’m too prideful to be humble. Even so, the right words to pray are words that ask God to change me.
His change process will help me become more humble and willing to lay down my sword. His change process will also give me a different view of hurtful people. My anger will be replaced by His Love. And if hurtful people feel the love of God as my response to their hurtful ways long enough, maybe, just maybe, they’ll see their need for change and want to change, too.
Jesus said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you...” (Luke 6:27-28, ESV)
These seem to be the hardest instructions for me to obey. It takes humility to do them, and I have to change if I am to be successful in my obedience. To have the right change in my life, I have to pray the right words. Right change in me can help facilitate right change around me.