Arising from Sleep

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And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. –Romans 13:11-12

At 4:00 am thoughts of Christians in Iraq being slaughtered disrupt my sleep. The horror of it all overwhelms me – it’s more than I can digest. From the safety of my bed, I flinch at the descriptions I’ve read and heard of atrocities being carried out on men, women, children. I long to mentally and emotionally turn away from this harsh reality, but how can I when Iraqi Christians, and so many others around the world, have no reprieve from terror and violence? I think of Jesus in the Garden of Gesthemane preparing for his crucifixion, sweating blood, asking His disciples to at least just stay awake with Him.

So I get up and pray, “God have mercy on us!” I pray for the wherewithal to remain mindful of my afflicted brothers and sisters, and alert. I pray that I might not be paralyzed by despair but driven to action – to become more compassionate, more patient, more long-suffering, more and more and still more determined to be and spread light in the face of darkness and evil. Ever soften my heart, Oh Lord, lest it become hardened by anger! Be near to those who are hurting and scared! Bless us, save us, and grant us eternal life! Amen.

In 1941, with the German occupation of Yugoslavia, Bishop Nikolai, together with Patriarch Gabriel Dozhich, was arrested and sentenced to imprisonment in the infamous Dachau Prison Camp in Germany. He spent two years in Dachau, witnessing and suffering some of the cruelest torture of human beings the world has known.

Prayer for Enemies

by St. Nicholas Velimirovich

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.
Enemies have driven me into Thy embrace more than friends have.
Friends have bound me to earth, enemies have loosed me from earth and have demolished all my aspirations in the world.
Enemies have made me a stranger in worldly realms and an extraneous inhabitant of the world.
Just as a hunted animal finds safer shelter than an unhunted animal does, so have I, persecuted by enemies, found the safest sanctuary, having ensconced myself beneath Thy tabernacle, where neither friends nor enemies can slay my soul.
Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.
They, rather than I, have confessed my sins before the world.
They have punished me, whenever I have hesitated to punish myself.
They have tormented me, whenever I have tried to flee torments.
They have scolded me, whenever I have flattered myself They have spat upon me, whenever I have filled myself with arrogance.
Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.
Whenever I have made myself wise, they have called me foolish.
Whenever I have made myself mighty, they have mocked me as though I were small.
Whenever I have wanted to lead people, they have shoved me into the background.
Whenever I have rushed to enrich myself, they have prevented me with an iron hand.
Whenever I thought that I would sleep peacefully, they have wakened me from sleep.
Whenever I have tried to build a home for a long and tranquil life,they have demolished it and driven me out.
Truly, enemies have cut me loose from the world and have stretched out my hands to the hem of Thy garment.
Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.
Bless them and multiply them; multiply them and make them even more bitterly against me:
so that my fleeing to Thee may have no return;
so that all hope in men may be scattered like cobwebs;
so that absolute serenity may begin to reign in my soul;
so that my heart may become the grave of my two evil twins: arrogance and anger;
so that I might amass all my treasure in heaven;
ah, so that I may for once be freed from self deception, which has entangled me in the dreadful web of illusory life.
Enemies have taught me to know what hardly anyone knows, that a person has no enemies in the world except himself.
One hates his enemies only when he fails to realize that they are not enemies, but cruel friends.
It is truly difficult for me to say who has done me more good and who has done me more evil in the world: friends or enemies.
Therefore bless, O Lord, both my friends and my enemies.
A slave curses enemies, for he does not understand.
But a son blesses them, for he understands. For a son knows that his enemies cannot touch his life. Therefore he freely steps among them and prays to God for them.
Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.
Amen

One comment:

  1. When I became Orthodox almost 20 years ago I was struck by the power of the prayer said every morning “Have mercy on them that hate and wrong me and make temptation for me and let them not perish because of me a sinner.” It was the first time that praying for your enemies made sense.

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