It was the end of April when a friend shared that she was feeling ugly on the inside and wanted some prayer. I braced myself as I wanted to respond in love and not in shock to whatever she was about to say. My sweet friend, went on to tell me there was a person in her life that annoyed her. Actually, this went beyond annoyance. This person made my friend want to scream. This person had continued to steal her joy over and over again. To make matters worse, this was a person she couldn’t remove from her life.
First, I told my friend that I was proud of her for reaching out. It’s hard to admit there is something ugly in our hearts. I then began to challenge my friend to pray for the person in her life for 30 days. Not just “Lord bless them”, but true prayers that she would pray for a dear friend. I told her to pray for this person as she would pray for me.
As I challenged my friend, I felt the Lord whisper a name to my heart. It was the name of a person in my life who has made me crazy angry. Honestly, I felt justified in my feelings. This person has been rude and mean to me. I should have the right to be annoyed by this person. As I sat there, trying to encourage my friend, and ignore the name the Lord was whispering to my heart, I thought of Ephesians 4:3:
Work hard to live together as one by the help of the Holy Spirit. Then there will be peace.
There is no running from that verse. Another translation says “Do your best to live in unity…” The minute I thought of this verse, I realized I haven’t been doing my best to live in unity with the name on my heart. So, my friend and I decided to set aside the month of May (31 days) to pray for the people who made us feel ugly on the inside. We committed to daily praying a new scripture verse over the person before our day could begin.
If that sounds easy, you are a better person than me. May 1 rolled around and I laid in bed thinking of scriptures to pray over the person. I couldn’t think of anything without turning it into a sarcastic thought. So I did a quick devotional on YouVersion and prayed the Lord would give me a scripture. As I was reading my devotional, I read Psalm 83:17:
Make them utter failures in everything they do until they perish in total disgrace and humiliation.
I am not proud of this, but when I read that verse I thought “That’s it! I can for sure pray that over them.” This person had been awful to me. They deserved to fail in everything and to experience humiliation for the way they have treated me. Friends, I can’t tell you enough how terrible looking back at these emotions makes me feel. Sharing the ugly that is deep in our hearts isn’t easy, but how this story ends is just so good to share! So, just when I was ready to give up on praying for the person on my heart, I read Psalm 83:18:
So they will know that you, and you alone, are Yahweh, the only Most High God exalted over all the earth!
If you read the entire chapter of Psalm 83, you will see the author was pretty upset. Someone had wronged them, and they wanted to know what in the world God was going to do about it. However, the tune changes at the end of the passage with verse 18. When I read this verse, God stopped me in my tracks. I don’t know what happened to change the author’s tune, but it was probably a friend that encouraged them to pray for his enemies for 30 days! All jokes aside, I realized that the person who was on my heart deserved to face complete failure, disgrace and humiliation just as much as I do. My sins may look different from theirs, but I still have hurt others with my sin just as they have. However, the Lord has redeemed both of us, and neither of us will get what we deserve. God has so much more for both of us! So I began to pray.
On Day 3, I had a conversation with my person, and it went well. I didn’t escalate, and didn’t feel like I wanted to punch things afterwards. It felt like such a big win.
On Day 7, a couple other people started to notice that I was treating this person different. On this day, I felt as if I had achieved “super Christian” status. John 13:34-35 was obviously written about me. It says:
So I give you now a new commandment: Love each other just as much as I have loved you. For when you demonstrate the same love I have for you by loving one another, everyone will know that you’re my true followers.
However, my new super status didn’t last long. On day 8, I struggled. The ugliness I have felt so many times before came back. On day 11, I was so frustrated. I didn’t think my prayers were changing anything. As a matter of fact, I was sure that things were getting worse. On that day, I reacted in a way that I wasn’t proud of to a tough conversation. I was ready to quit. However, I kept pushing through. I didn’t stop praying. The next time I saw that person, I apologized for my actions. It wasn’t easy.
On day 17, I was able to have a good interaction with the person without jumping to the normal conclusions I would have just 17 days earlier. On day 23, I had a conversation that actually helped me with what I was doing. Finally, on day 30, I actually enjoyed a conversation with the person.
On June 1, I woke up and prayed for my person again simply out of habit. It’s now June 4, and I have prayed for the person off and on. I don’t know if I have achieved and hung on to “super Christian” status, but I did learn so much. I realized that I can control myself in situations that are out of my control. I don’t have to react like a crazy woman, just because the situation is crazy. I also learned it is okay to forgive and love from afar. Honestly, I am not ready to have lunch with this person, but the very sight of the person doesn’t make me want to scream anymore.
Today, if you are reading this and the Lord whispered someone’s name to you, I want to challenge you. Set 30 days aside and pray for that person. It’s not an easy challenge, but expect God to do something big!
On Day 21, I struggled to find a scripture. I felt like I had prayed the entire bible already. (I realize how dramatic that sounds, but it was a tough morning). So, I wanted to share the scriptures that both my friend and I prayed. You don’t have to use these scriptures, it’s just a starting place. One thing that worked for me was putting the person’s name into the scripture I was praying.
31 Prayers for People Who Bug Me
(Just a note – I removed all duplicate scriptures, so some days only have one scripture.)
If you take my challenge to pray for someone difficult in your life, I’d love to hear from you! I don’t want to know how awful they were, I want to know how God changed you!