The best way to show you love someone is to pray for them

Have you got someone in your life who you want to love but just can’t? Either because they are difficult to love in general or because they won’t let you love them at all?

I think everybody does. We all have those people in our lives. Maybe they’re friends. Maybe they’re family. Maybe they’re even what you could call your enemies. Whatever role they fall into in your life, you’re trying to do what God tells you to do and love them. But loving someone is hard enough when they love you back. How do you manage loving someone who doesn’t want it–or worse, how do you love someone who just doesn’t like you right now?

apart_bridgeToday’s verse is 1 Timothy 2:1.

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.

Prayer is the go-to answer for most questions in our life, especially the questions we don’t know how to handle. It’s easy to say that you’ll pray for someone. It’s easy to say that you’ll take it to the Lord in prayer. But it’s easier said than done.

Have you tried to pray for an hour before? Have you tried to pray for someone for more than five minutes? Not so easy. Five minutes doesn’t seem like a long time, but sit yourself down in a quiet room and try talking out loud for five minutes. You might run out of things to say.

The point is that prayer isn’t easy. We talk about it like it is, but that’s probably because most of us haven’t really tried it seriously. It’s a habit you have to get into.

Praying for someone is the best thing you can do to demonstrate how much you love them. Think about it. You’re approaching the God of the Universe and asking Him to help this other person in your life. That’s better than giving them money. Granted, they may not see it that way… at first.

The thing about prayer is that it’s rarely immediate. You don’t always see results right away. Often, you have to pray for something for years before you see God’s hand at work, although that doesn’t mean God waits for years to start working. It just takes us years to notice.

Prayer takes persistence, because quite frankly it feels like you’re not doing anything at all. It’s hard for me because I’m a doer. I’m a fixer. I want to get up and work. I want to go show somebody I love them instead of just telling them from a distance. But in the situations where you have people in your life who don’t want anything to do with you, you can’t exactly rush up to them, hug them, and start talking about life with them. I mean, you can try, but it probably won’t be well received, especially if it’s someone who doesn’t like you right now.

If you’re trying to reach out to someone who has cut you off, jumping back into his or her life and boldly exclaiming your love for them won’t come off genuinely.

It doesn’t feel like you’re doing anything to love someone by praying for them, but it’s truly the best thing you can do. And, frankly, you can’t do anything anyway. That’s the point.

Want to make a difference? Pray for the people in your life that you love. Pray for the people who love you and the ones who don’t. It’s the best gift you can give them. It’s the best way to show them how much you care. Maybe they don’t understand what it means. Maybe they don’t understand what prayer actually is. And that’s okay. Keep praying for them, and someday they will.

Apricot blossoms at sunset

Praying for people you don’t like

Who do you pray for? When someone asks you to pray for them, do you? Do you only pray for them if it’s someone you love or someone you like? Personally, it’s difficult for me to pray for people I don’t like because generally speaking I try to avoid thinking about people I don’t like. So they rarely cross my mind enough to pray for them on any consistent basis.

Apricot blossoms at sunset

Apricot blossoms at sunset - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is 1 Timothy 2:1.

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.

Well, that answers the question pretty definitively, I would say. Who should we pray for? Looks like all people to me.

I don’t pray like I should. I used to be pretty good about it, but anymore my thoughts are so jumbled and chaotic anything I try to tell God usually comes out in a messy, rushed statement that doesn’t really mean anything. But when I sit quietly, I like praying. One of the reasons I love my hour-long commute every morning is that it provides me with time to talk with God, although I get distracted pretty easily.

But the people I pray for are generally people I would talk to. The people I remember to pray for are my friends. But what about my enemies? What about casual acquaintances? What about some guy on the street? Don’t they fall into the category of “all people”?

Yes, they do.

Prayer was never meant to be a popularity contest. We’re supposed to pray for everyone whether we like them or not, whether we know them or not. And I’m not talking about the childish “God please help everyone” types of prayers. Prayers that generic never make a difference. We have to be specific.

When we pray, we need to have a specific request in mind. Much like the verse says, we need to ask God to help them, we need to intercede on their behalf, and we need to tell God how annoying they are and that it’s a real pain to have to pray for someone we wouldn’t even talk to face to face.

Is that what it says?

No. We are supposed to be thankful for them.

Ugh. Really? I posted yesterday about dealing with difficult people. So according to this verse, that means I need to not only be patient and pray for the difficult people in my life but I also need to be thankful for them? Is God serious?

Why? What does it matter if I don’t pray for people I don’t like? Surely someone likes them enough to pray for them. Right? Am I the only one who ever feels that way?

Here’s the problem with that kind of thinking: it’s pride.

It’s really hard to hate someone you’re praying for. Even if that person is a villain, someone who has hurt you repeatedly, someone you would never spend time with, if you are genuinely praying for that person, even though you don’t like them, even though you wouldn’t speak to them, you will have a hard time hating them. If you pray for them, you love them. It just happens.

So maybe that’s our hesitation to pray for people we don’t like: we don’t want to love them.

We don’t want to love people who hurt us. We don’t want to love people who use us. We don’t want to love people who irritate us.

But that’s not the way we’re supposed to live.

I’m not saying you need to jump into that person’s life and get involved in their issues. Actually, that’s a terrible idea because most likely they’ll pull you down into their problems. Prayer doesn’t require that. Prayer only requires that you love them enough to ask God to help them. Let God sort it out. There’s nothing you can do anyway that will change someone’s heart anyway.

So the next time you encounter a difficult person, pray for them. Whatever it is about them that bothers you, pray about it. Tell God exactly what you’re thinking, and He will respond. I promise. And then you’ll watch a miracle happen, not that God changes the person who bothers you … but that He changes you from someone too proud to pray for an enemy to someone who loves unconditionally.

So maybe that’s why we should be thankful for difficult people.