My youngest came in from playing in the park, and I could tell something was wrong. He didn’t say anything until 10 minutes later, when he commented rather bitterly, “Mark was being a real jerk today.”
“You seem pretty upset,” I commented sympathetically. I was immediately rewarded with an earful about what Mark had said and done.
After my son’s rant was over, something still seemed amiss. I asked, as neutrally as possible, “Is there anything you wish you hadn’t said or done?” My son hung his head. He muttered a few things, none of which spoke well of how he had responded to his friend.
“Hm. I can help you figure out how to handle some of that for the next time,” I offered, “But first you need to ask God to forgive you for your role in the problem. And then you need to pray for Mark.”
“Pray for Mark?!” my child replied, aghast. “I don’t ever want to think of him, never mind see him again!”
I suggested to my son that if he took 15 slow, deep breaths he would feel relaxed enough to be able to talk to God about the situation, and that after another 15 breaths he might be able to pray for Mark. Several hours later, on our way to Cub Scouts, I asked if he’d been successful in his prayers. He nodded. “It was really hard, though!” he said, sounding surprised.
I nodded back. “The harder it is to pray for someone, the harder you know your heart is,” I said, giving him a hug. “I’m glad you dug through that resistance. I bet God is, too.”
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:33-34)