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Sarah HartlandJan 6, 2017 12:00:00 AM3 min read

How to Pray for People You Don't Like (But Are Commanded to Love)

That pesky commandment to “love my enemies” (Matthew 5:44) has a tendency to play in the back of my mind during conflict. There are very few people I cannot get along with. My default is enjoying people, even if we don’t have much in common. Still, occasionally I must interact with someone who rubs me the wrong way.

I recently watched “Eternal Salvation,” a film on In the film, one character, Paul, is consistently the odd man out and the object of ridicule. This sort of environment would wear on anyone, but Paul always has a kind word and a smile. I don’t want to give away the story, but let’s just say that as the story progresses, the reason behind Paul’s attitude becomes clear.

In one scene, Paul mentors the protagonist, Jonathan, and together they pray for a coworker who has frankly stabbed them both in the back repeatedly.

I found this simple part of Paul’s character to be incredibly convicting. I can’t say my first reaction to someone I dislike is to pray for them. I am brought back to Matthew 5:44, though, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you…” (KJV).

As the credits rolled, I thought about how I could better put this commandment into action. I reflected on situations where I should have prayed for my “enemies” and God laid on my heart some key principles to put in place in the future:

Admit Your Dislike

This one might seem counter-intuitive, but for me it was important. Acknowledging the problem is the first step to correcting it. Genuine communication with God is an important part of living in relationship with Him. Admit you’ve been hurt and bring that hurt to the foot of the Cross.

Tweet: Genuine communication with God is an important part of living in relationship with Him. @sarahphartland @pureflix

Pray for Wisdom

One of my favorite verses is James 1:5 (KJV): “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” This is a promise from God, that if we ask for wisdom, we will get it. Wisdom, I think, is a key part of handling any situation well.

Pray for a Softened Heart

Ask God to soften your heart toward the person you dislike. Looking for the best in someone can be hard when there is conflict or hurt. Choosing to believe someone has good intentions may be your ticket. Practice empathy and try to view things from the other person’s perspective. Doing this intentionally will help you soften your heart and approach this person with grace.

Listen and Look for the Answer

When you pray, expect God to show up- in your life and the other person’s. Be attentive to what He teaches you. You might be surprised how a negative situation can be used for good.

I hope these reflections serve as helpful reminders for you, just as they have for me. Be sure to catch “Eternal Salvation” on, and let me know in the comments section if it convicts you as it did me!

If you’re not a Pure Flix subscriber, don’t worry. You can still watch “Eternal Salvation” (and hundreds of other family movies) for free with a one-week trial. Trust me, you’ll be inspired again and again.


Sarah Hartland

Sarah Hartland knew she wanted to be a writer from the time she wrote her first short story in the fourth grade. By the time she was in high school, she had written two novellas and countless short stories. It was her love of storytelling that led her into marketing and media.

Sarah freelanced throughout her time at Colorado Christian University, where she graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration. At CCU, Sarah competed in speech and debate across the country, securing multiple awards and a national debate championship. She co-lead CCU's first-ever broadcast media program, CCU.TV, and served as the program's Student Producer during her senior year.

When she's not writing blog posts or editing a video, Sarah loves to swing dance, ski, travel, or visit her seven younger siblings in Montana.