She called me a hag. I don’t know what she meant by that exactly but I know it certainly was not a compliment.
She called me a hag, but that wasn’t the worst of what she had done. She’d inserted herself into my marriage and done so on more than one occasion. She had introduced me to feelings of fear and insecurity that felt unshakable.
You may have had similar feelings and been told to pray for that person. But is it easy to learn how to pray for someone who hurt you? No, but the results are too amazing to give up.
Although those years were long behind us, the hurt was still there; still fresh. And as I’m accounting each of these injustices, spilling my heart out to God, justifying my anger act by act; I feel His presence swiftly enter the room, and in a quiet whisper I take in the words,
But she is my love, too.
In a moment of confusion I turn, looking for the face to match the voice I so clearly heard. “What?” I asked out loud.
Try to see her like I see her.
And there it was. What felt like the challenge of a lifetime.
How would I do that? Where would I start? Where do you begin when you are trying to learn how to pray for someone who hurt you?
It’s hard enough to forgive, let alone, love the people who hurt us. Would it really make a difference? Would she even know?
And there it was again; the stamp of a heart problem; a sign that this hurt was deeper than I had understood. Proof that over time, without even realizing it, my heart had been hardening.
Clearing Out the Yuck
It all made sense after that; why I was having such a hard time loving this woman.
How can a heart that loves God hate who he created? How can a heart that loves God hate who He loves; the very people He sent His Son to save?
“God teach me to love her like you love her and to see her through Your eyes.”
At the time I wished I knew what else to pray but friends honestly, that was all my soul could conjure up. I hoped it was enough.
“…My grace is sufficient for you. My strength is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
My prayer was simple. It was sincere. And praise God, it was answered.
How was I going to demonstrate my choice to love this woman? The short answer – God lead me to pray for her.
How to Pray for Someone Who Hurt You
“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.” Matthew 5:44
It sounded simple enough. I woke up the next morning, grabbed the note cards from the kitchen, sat down at the table fully intending to soak this girl in prayer and … nothing… Nothing came out. I sat for a few more minutes. I figured maybe if I just started writing the rest would flow freely.
I scribbled her name in cursive at the top of my note cards and still; nothing. About that time my kids came charging into the kitchen which meant my time alone was over. I slowly got up and began to switch gears.
Putting on my mom hat I welcomed my kids into the kitchen and sat them down at the table. We start every day in the kitchen with breakfast and a short devotional.
I stirred the oatmeal and leaned into their precious conversation. They were talking about how God created each of them. It was a sweet conversation and as I listen the Spirit stirred my heart.
She has kids too, you know?
I flashed back to Matthew 5:44, “… pray for those who spitefully use you.”
“Lord, bless Adda and her family.”
Wait, what? Did that just come out of my mouth? Surely it didn’t.
“Flood their home with your joy.”
Yup, it did.
“Draw them closer to each other and put in front of them people to help draw them to you.”
The words wouldn’t stop flowing. It was the strangest, most uncomfortable, yet delightful thing. I asked God to show me how to love and pray for Adda and He did.
When I would think about my marriage I would pray for hers.
When I would think about my health I’d ask God to bless hers.
When I would think about our finances I’d ask God to multiply hers.
When I would think about what my “best life” (for lack of a better term) would look like; the goal we had as a family, the dreams I has personally, the things I was passionate about; I would ask God to show up tangibly for her in those spaces.
And prayer by prayer my heart towards her began to soften.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10
Remember that heart problem I was telling you about? Pray by prayer, God was fixing it.
How to Pray For Someone Who Hurt You Intentionally
Praying for people who hurt us, especially people who hurt us intentionally, isn’t always easy. It feels absurd in the moment. Here we are trying to work through our own hurts and God wants us to bless the person who dished out all that pain? It doesn’t seem fair.
What I learned though, is this whole, “bless those who curse you, pray for those who spitefully use you,” thing is just as much for us as it is the one who offended us.
It prepares our hearts to forgive.
It makes space for God to redeem.
It allows us to demonstrate God’s love in the same way He did for us.
And it invites Him to do a work in the lives of people that only He can do.
Responding to hurt with prayer is vital for living a victorious life in Christ and building the kingdom of God. These tips can help you prepare your heart to pray for those who have hurt you.
1. Humble Ourselves
“… Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28
The greatest way you can reflect the love of God and serve those who hurt you is to pray for them. Often times, that requires us setting aside our hurt, emotions, and (dare I say it) pride. It’s pride that keeps us from picking people off the ground and lifting them above our heads into the arms of God.
Dismantling that pride and humbling ourselves before God even in the midst of hurt not only honors Him, but it positions us to introduce people to Him and His gift of salvation. It is our opportunity to replicate what Jesus did for us on the cross.
2. Stay Committed
Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you up to seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:21 – 22
It’s not uncommon for hurt to resurface on multiple occasions. Or for the same person to cause you pain on several different occasions. Preparing your heart to pray for those who hurt you means you’ve got to decide that no matter how deep the hurt or how many times you’ve been through it, you’re going to forgive and beyond that, you’re going to continue to pray.
About seven year ago my husband and I experienced a handful of hurt at the hands of a few of my friends. A few years later those same people made some choices that damaged our relationship even more.
Those fresh wounds managed to aggravate the old wounds that we thought had scabbed over. I found myself working really hard to commit to the forgiveness that we had declared over them and the situation back in 2012. We have to be careful to keep from falling into unforgiveness. Being committed to prayer can help you do that.
3. Choose Your “Prayer Triggers”
I use the word “choose” lightly. Chances are your triggers have already been chosen. One of mine was her name; Adda. Every time I would hear Adda’s name anger and pride would fester up inside me. That was a sure fire sign that I needed to bless, do good, and pray. So that’s what I would do any time I heard her name.
Usually when we hurt there are things around us that bring those emotions front and center. Use those things as your “triggers,” or better stated, use those things as your call to prayer.
4. Keep An Eternal Mindset
This life we live is an incredible; but eternity is greater. It’ll either be a greater sorrow or a greater joy. If your hurt has come from somebody who doesn’t know Jesus I want to challenge to keep things in perspective.If your hurt has come from somebody who doesn't know Jesus I want to challenge to keep things in perspective. Click To Tweet
Please understand I am not trying to minimize your hurt. It matters. You’re healing matters and thankfully you serve a God is in the healing business. I’m confident (and I hope you are too) that He will bring you through. That being said, SALVATION is a priority we can not neglect.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit; teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you…” Matthew 28:19-20
God commissioned us with the task of building His kingdom. Focusing on our hurts and allowing them to consume us distracts us from walking in this purpose. The hurt you’re experiencing now is only for a season and turning it over to God can drastically reduce the effects of that hurt on your life.
Heaven and Hell; those things are for eternity. They aren’t fading away. What’s hanging in the balance for the unbeliever that caused you hurt is not an earthly matter but an eternal one. Eternity with Jesus? Or eternity without Him? Although unpleasant, every hurt we experience is an opportunity to point people towards Christ. Be ready to take that opportunity.
5. Stay Hidden In Christ AND In His Word
Prayer isn’t just a thing we do, it’s a tool we battle with. When we use it, whether we realize it or not we are engaging is spiritual warfare. Opposition is a part of warfare we need to always be prepared for.
So as you take up this cross and begin blessing and praying for the people who have hurt you it’s equally as important for you to armor up and stay rooted in Christ. Reflect on scripture, read and reread it, write it out, pray it out loud. Equip yourself for the warfare you are about to engage in. Be attentive to what it going on in the physical and spiritual atmosphere around you so that you aren’t caught off guard and you respond with boldness to anything that opposes the will of God in your circumstances.
There is so much freedom to be experienced through prayer and forgiveness. Never stop praying for those who have hurt you. Prepare your heart to be in it for the long hall. May God bless you and keep you as you do.
Hi friends! I’m Alonda Tanner; an Alaska Grown author and educator, with an ever-growing love for Jesus, books, and sparkling cider. In addition, I love serving the world by creating free education and resources that inspire women to embrace their God-given identity and live purpose-driven, faith-filled lives. I’m a firm believer that it all starts with digging into the Word. Ready to venture into a richness of the Bible? Join our Bible Study community and I’ll send you our most well-loved resources – our Bible study Highlighting Key – for free!