Only God Knows

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

On a recent Sunday evening, I traveled to St. Louis for a court appearance. I am never terribly excited to travel for business over the weekend, but the trip had been uneventful. We arrived after dark and I made the long walk from the gate to the airport exit. As I walked out of the terminal to the rental car shuttle lane, I saw the Hertz bus pulling away. Fortunately, it was not painfully cold outside so I settled in to wait. Three Avis shuttles later, the next Hertz shuttle arrived.

As I deposited my bags on the rack and settled into a seat, I was greeted by the driver. “You just missed that last bus, didn’t you?” As I started trying to size him up, he tried to explain to me how he knew that. In the background a Kenny Rodgers song was playing.

“I know every Kenny Rodgers song. Did you know that Jamaicans love Kenny Rodgers?” I had to admit that I was not aware of that. He went on the tell me about how many times Kenny Rodgers had come to Jamaica, how many people went to the concerts, and so forth. The song ended and Sheena Easton started playing, which seemed to bring the conversation to an end. The man driving our shuttle was a tall older Jamaican man wearing a large black stetson hat and glasses.

As we pulled into the Hertz lot, the recording started playing about how to find our car. It ended and our driver repeated the recorded message with a smile, “your name should be on the board.” He emphasized the word “should.” He had noticed that the recording was hedging the company’s bets about whether I would actually see my name on the board. (How many times have I walked up to the board and not seen my name? Enough complaining, back to the story.) I asked if he had been a lawyer, picking up on that wording. He laughed and said, well yes, he had studied law in college before he dropped out. He became an executive chef instead. With a thank you for the ride, I departed the shuttle to see my name on the board. The journey continued.

After I woke up Monday morning and started my prayer time, I was jotting down prayer intentions in a notebook. I included a prayer for my shuttle driver—“God bless my Hertz driver last night, who made me laugh and smile.” This prompted me to think:

When was the last time I prayed, “God bless that person who ruined my day?”

When I thought of the shuttle driver that morning, it was easy to pray for him because of the positive experience. I had good feelings about him. But what about the people that I cross paths with that are a negative experience? Those who make my life more difficult. Those who ruined my day. Those who hurt me or my loved ones. Have I prayed for them too?

This is a difficult part of the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. It is a part of the Bible that we often read or hear, but do not really contemplate because it is so challenging.

Love for Enemies

“But I say to you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. . . . And as you wish that men would do to you, do so to them. . . .”

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. . . . But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”

Love for Enemies

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

We do not know the full circumstances of the person that has hurt us, our “enemy” so to speak. Did they have a loving family? Has anyone introduced them to Jesus? Have they encountered the love of God personally in their prayers? Are they under a crushing spiritual burden? Are they confronting sickness or death? Did they lose their job? We have no idea what trials they face in life and what graces they have been given. We cannot know whether they have anyone to pray for them.

Only God knows. Perhaps this is why Jesus told us to pray for those who persecute us, to pray for our enemies, to do good to those who hate us, to bless those who curse us. Only God knows what they need. Jesus himself modeled this for us on the cross when He prayed: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

The scourge we receive from our enemies is often an occasion for anger in us or a temptation to revenge. While our emotional reaction is normal and human, we do not want to give into it and fall into sin. We should pray that God would give us the grace to recognize the scourge from our enemies as a prompt to prayer—a prompt to not only pray for those who have hurt us, but also to pray for ourselves in our weakness, to ask for healing from the wounds caused by our enemies and those deep underlying wounds that make us particularly vulnerable to the scourge. In the mystery of Christ’s Kingdom, in praying for our enemies we can receive healing too.

By his wounds you have been healed.

Prayer for Inner Healing

Lord Jesus you come to heal our wounded and troubled hearts, I beg you to heal the torments that cause anxiety in my heart; I beg you, in a particular way, to heal all who are the cause of sin. I beg you to come into my life and heal me of the psychological harms that struck me in my early years and from the injuries that they caused throughout my life.

Lord Jesus, you know my burdens. I lay them all on your Good Shepherd’s Heart I beseech you – by the merits of the great, open wound in your heart – to heal the small wounds that are in mine. Heal the pain of my memories, so that nothing that has happened to me will cause me to remain in pain and anguish, filled with anxiety.

Heal, O Lord, all those wounds that have been the cause of all the evil that is rooted in my life. I want to forgive all those who have offended me. Look to those inner sores that make me unable to forgive. You came to forgive the afflicted of heart, please, heal my own heart.

Heal, my Lord Jesus, those intimate wounds that cause me physical illness. I offer you my heart. Accept it, Lord, purify it and give me the sentiments of your Divine Heart. Help me to be meek and humble.

Heal me, O Lord, from the pain caused by the death of my loved ones, which is oppressing me. Grant me to regain peace and joy in the knowledge that you are the Resurrection and the Life. Make me an authentic witness to your Resurrection, Your victory over sin and death, your living presence among us.


This article and endnotes can be found here.

Eric A. Welter is an employment lawyer and trial attorney with a long-time devotion to intercessory prayer. He is a Catholic Christian who has been involved with intercessory and healing prayer ministry for over twenty years. The Abound in Hope Ministry website is