There are a number of things that just can’t be done in this life:
1. You can’t scratch your ear with your elbow;
2. You can’t make a leopard change its spots;
3. You can’t make the person ahead of you in line go faster; and
4. You can’t stay angry with someone when you pray for them.
I have a few people in my life that have not only worked hard to earn my anger, but no matter how many times I have tried to overcome their nastiness and bad manners, they always prove their extraordinary talent for obstinacy and spitefulness is more powerful than my meager attempts to ignore them.
That’s when I pray for them. Not always, mind you- I ain’t no saint; not by a long shot. But there are times when I remember the title of this blog and pray for them.
When you pray for someone you need to “get in their shoes” so that your prayer is appropriately aimed at helping them overcome the very thing that gets you so mad at them.
I have a previous life, with two children and an “ex” that has constantly, and consistently, overcome all my attempts to ignore and diffuse her spite, anger and hatred, which she has instilled in my children against me and my family members. I pray for the kids every day, waiting patiently and prayerfully for their reconciliation with me and their turning to God, in whichever order He thinks is best. And sometimes, I am happy to say, I remember to pray for her. Since the day we separated she refused to let us buy things for them and do things for them, insisting she get the money instead of the children getting the clothes , furniture, or whatever we wanted them to have. Over the years she had proven that giving her money is the same as throwing it away, so in the end, the kids have lost out. The worst part is that the kids think everything she has told them is true, and they actually are just as brainwashed as if they had been growing up in a cult. Someone that mean, that hateful, and so hurt that she will eat her own children in order to hurt me is so desperately in need of the love of God that I cannot possibly refuse to pray for her.
And during those 20 plus years of trying to overcome her, the courts were useless (the mother always wins unless she is a drug addict or something like that.) Now the kids are long past majority, and I am helpless. All I have left is prayer. I haven’t even talked to them for a few years now.
All of this kvetching is not to vent or ask for pity, but to give you an idea of the background, so that when I say I have plenty of ammunition for hating and being angry with someone, you can understand just how powerful prayer is, because when I pray for her and for them all I can feel is pity. The anger is gone, and a genuine desire for them to find forgiveness and peace, as I have, is paramount in my heart and spirit.
When I have one of those conversations (you know, the kind where you tell the person what you have always wanted to say and they listen attentively, because it’s all in your mind) and feel myself getting a little worked up, I can now (thanks to the Ruach inside me) stop because I realize what I should be doing is not “getting it off my chest” (which, by the way, never works- you don’t put out a fire by pouring gasoline on it) but placing it before God and asking His intervention. Not for retribution, or even the justice that is deserved, but for help. And not for me, but for her.
For this to work you have to really mean the prayer, and the way I do that is to recall what I have that she doesn’t. I have the Lord; I have Yeshua as my intercessor, and I have salvation with a guaranteed seat at the table. I have everything that is important in death (that’s not a typo- what is important in life is to make sure you know where you go when life is over. Life is short, death is forever, so I want what is important in death more than what is important in life. Don’t you?) and all she has is her hatred and anger. And that is useless to her; it brings no warmth, no love, and no satisfaction since she can’t hurt me anymore. She has used up all her cards, laid them out on the table, and the other players are already gone.
She has nothing. Even though she has the children, what she has taught them is to be self-centered and unappreciative of anything and everyone. She has not shown them how to be useful members of a relationship, how to love properly, how to be independant and self-assured. She has only taught them the way to grow old and alone, with no friends and no God. If they should ever come to their senses, she may lose them, leaving her absolutely nothing. I have already lost them, and I wouldn’t wish that feeling on anyone. Not even her.
How can anyone be angry with someone so pitiful? And when I pray for her, and for my kids, I can feel the pain she feels. I can realize how hurt she is. I even feel (sometimes) useless and ashamed that I didn’t make more attempts than I did (and believe me, I made a lot of them) to apologize and help more. All I did is not relevant here, so please understand that I did a lot, travelled a lot, spent extra time and money trying to help them and be as close as one can be when two states away.
It is prayer that has helped me, too, to be less angry and vengeful. I know that God is a loving Father and a merciful Judge, but He is, when all is said and done, God. He will judge mercifully but fairly, and those that have come up short and rejected Him will get the short end of the stick and be, themselves, rejected by Him. Without a significant change in their lives, my ex and my children, blind leading the blind, will all fall into the pit and spend eternity in Sheol. I am not happy with that thought…not happy at all.
So I pray. I pray everyday for my children, and I pray now and then for her. As I said, I’m not a saint and do not pray for her as earnestly as I pray for my children. After all, it is anger management, not anger removal. I think it takes more than just prayer to remove the anger totally; prayer is just one of the tools God gives us to do that. There are still things, even from decades ago, that get under my skin, to to speak, and I try to release it all to the Lord, but I seem to have sticky fingers.
Maybe one day I will be cleansed enough by the Living Water, Yeshua Ha Mashiach, so that my fingers will no longer be sticky.
Are you still angry about something? Are you still feeling a need for justice and yes, wanting revenge? Or maybe just to see someone get their “comeuppance?” If you want to get over it, pray for them. Pray earnestly, pray as you know Yeshua would pray for them (“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”), and if you are having a hard time with that, think about this: you get to be in Paradise forever, and they will be in eternal suffering with no chance for parole. Think about how close you came to their fate, how much better your position than theirs, and much more love you have in your life because you have the Lord, Yeshua and the Ruach HaKodesh. Think about all that you have and all that they don’t, and if you don’t feel pity and remorse for them, well, you should question your own salvation!
I don’t want to believe that anyone who knows the love of God, the suffering of Messiah and the forgiveness we have received could possibly want to deny that to anyone. No matter what they did.
Anger is not a sin, and Shaul tells us that we should not sin in our anger. Be angry if you are mistreated, misjudged, hurt and humiliated. It’s natural to be angry, just don’t sin in your anger. If you want to get rid of it, pray for the person who did it to you. Anger and vengeance are a wormwood that will eat you up from the inside out, so let God have it.
Proverbs says to not return evil for evil, but wait upon the Lord. It’s good advice. Pray for those that have hurt you and made you angry and you will see that it really is the ultimate anger management tool.