In return for my friendship they accuse me,
    but I am a man of prayer.
Psalm 109:4

Prayer in Judaism is defined as “the work of the heart,” which profoundly changes the nature of prayer from one of entreating God to an act that transforms who we are – not what God does. Our devotions throughout this month are focused on different facets of prayer and what lessons we can learn about the power of our prayers. For more inspirational teachings about prayer, download our free booklet, The Work of the Heart.

In Psalm 109, King David explained that even though he loved his enemies, they only hated him. And he had many enemies in his lifetime.

Our natural tendency is to like people who like us and be kind to those who are kind to us. In contrast, we are equally as likely to dislike those who dislike us and hurt those who hurt us first. It’s unusual to find someone who can repay hurt with kindness like King David. How can we overcome our normal human tendency to dislike those who hurt us?

David answered this question in the second half of the verse: “but I am a man of prayer.” What’s prayer got to do with it?

When we pray, we recognize that everything in our lives comes directly from God: the good, the bad – everything. We thank God for the good things in our lives, and we might request that He change a thing or two. In every word we utter, we recognize that there is only one force that controls the events in our lives: God.

So what does this have to do with an ungrateful friend or a hurtful relative?

When we recognize that everything that happens to us is ordered from God for our own good, we no longer place the blame fully on the people who hurt us. We recognize that our experiences, even the hurtful ones, are necessary for our spiritual growth.

Does this make the hurtful person innocent? No. Just because an unpleasant situation was ordered for us, doesn’t mean that the person who delivered it had to volunteer for the job!

But it does place enough distance between us and the hurtful person to be able to see past their actions and into their souls. They are messengers from God delivering to us exactly what we need at that moment. Whatever happens as a result of the enemies in our lives was bound to happen to us one way or another. This clarity allows us to let go of our need to hate back or repay the hurt. It allows us to choose love instead.

If you are like the rest of us, there are probably people in your life who have hurt you at one time or another. There are probably also people that you don’t know – even in other countries – who say and do things that are hateful toward you. But remember – everything is as it should be and they, too, are part of God’s plan. Lose the hate and choose to love.

Don’t put your enemies in their place; instead place them in your prayers.

To download a free copy of Rabbi Eckstein’s newest teaching resource on prayer, Work of the Heart: Ten Biblical Lessons on the Power of Prayer, go here.

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