It’s a cliche I know, but be careful what you pray for.
The other day I made a little time for some prayer and found myself praying really fervently for the strength to love people that it’s really hard to love. You know the sort of prayer – the ones where you ask to be able to love people the way that Jesus would have. It was a good prayer and I felt good for having prayed it.
A short time afterwards, I disappeared down one of those “click a news article and follow the links” social media rabbit-holes. Unfortunately, I ended up reading some really racist (not to mention ill-informed) comments about Muslims in the UK. It was truly vile and made me very angry to read. Beyond being angry at the writers, I was deeply saddened to see how prevalent such opinions are in the UK today and got quite despondent at the state of UK society.
I came to my senses and switched my phone off for a while, choosing instead to do something more positive with my time.
However, suddenly I had one of those “light-bulb” realisations.
Those people that I had become so angry at. Those sections of society that made me so despondent. Those racists. They are people that it is very hard to love. They are also in need of the love of Christ. They are in need of forgiveness and Grace rather than judgement, just the same as I am.
And I don’t know what to do with that knowledge. Or rather, I know what I should do – pray for them with love – but it’s really hard. Really hard!
So I have some work to do. To swallow my pride, my anger and my judgement. To stop putting my own expectations on the outcome of my prayers and to pray for people that I really don’t like.
Because that’s what Jesus would have done and no one ever said that following him would be easy.