It's 8:30 in the morning and my heart is beating like a hummingbird. I dislike receiving forwards of any kind, but especially those piously heretical ones. Like what appeared in my inbox this morning. It was a prayer request for American soldiers that included a formal prayer that went like this:
"Lord, hold our troops in your loving hands. Protect them as they protect us. Bless them and their families for the selfless acts they perform for us in our time of need. I ask this in the name of Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Amen."
I could rant, and explain in minute detail why this prayer is shallow and at best, lopsided. I could lay out the definitely not-Christian theology I see in three out of the four sentences (not counting the Amen). Unfortunately, I have to clean my house for missionaries that are coming to see Manguinhos today...and I'm wary of the repercussions in my inbox, so if you'd like to know what I think, let me know and I'll email it.
What did I do, in my fit of what I would like to see as righteous anger? I responded to all with a prayer that hopefully added a bit more balance to the mix...a classic Christian prayer used for centuries that goes like this when it's been adapted to modern language:
Lord Jesus Christ, Who commanded us to love our enemies, and those who defame and injure us, and to pray for them and forgive them; You Who also prayed for Your enemies, who crucified You: grant us, we pray, the spirit of Christian reconciliation and meekness, that we may freely and truly forgive every injury, slight, and hurt, and be reconciled with our enemies. Grant us to overcome the malevolence and offences of people with Christian meekness and true love of our neighbor. O Lord, we ask You to grant to our enemies true peace and forgiveness of sins; and do not allow them to leave this life without true faith and sincere conversion and reconciliation with You. Help us repay evil with goodness, and to remain safe from the temptations of the devil and from all the perils which threaten us, in the form of visible and invisible enemies. Amen.
I would want my enemies to pray this for me.
If we believe that God answers prayers, this should be one of those prayers that stays perpetually on our lips. We're not simply asking God to bless our enemies, but to transform our enemies into intimates, fellow partakers in the Church, in the Body of Christ, to be our brothers and sisters. We are asking God to do what is humanly impossible: change our hard hearts and change theirs and effect true reconciliation between God and man. Wow.
Please, if you are my enemy, pray for me.
Because I think, after sending unwanted, and in this current state of events, probably unpatriotic (!), emails, I'm going to have a nice new crop of enemies.
Let's pray for each other.