Several years ago, I stayed home from work because I was sick with the flu and felt miserable. I start my day with prayer, so that day I prayed and then opened the Bible at random, looking for some inspiration. My eyes fell on the command that we should pray for our enemies.
There was only one person I’d describe as an enemy, and as I thought of him that morning, I definitely didn’t want to pray for him. He was a man convicted of being a serial rapist, and the last woman he’d attacked was my very best friend. He was captured and was serving a 120-year prison sentence without the possibility of parole. During his trial, I sat a few feet away from him, listening as woman after woman testified. I felt then that if I could hurt anyone, I would hurt him. I didn’t want to feel that way, but that’s how I felt.
So years later, with my Bible open to a passage commanding me to pray for my enemy, I knew it held a message for me about that experience. I quickly closed the book because I really didn’t want to pray for this man.
The next day I still had the flu, and the same thing happened: I prayed and then opened my Bible at random. My eyes fell on another verse that commands us to pray for our enemies, and again I quickly closed the Bible. I knew what I was being called to do, and I didn’t want to do it.
The third day—still feeling sick—I again prayed, opened my Bible, and my eyes fell on yet another verse commanding me to pray for my enemies.
I closed my Bible, but this time with a slightly humbler heart. I was tired of feeling sick, and had a hunch that this message was going to continue coming my way until I learned whatever I needed to learn. To me, it was an example of the healing light of the Christ, shining into a dark corner of my life.
I’ve learned that only honest prayer is effective, but that morning, sitting alone in my home, I had no idea how to even begin to pray for this individual. Then I remembered a phrase from page one of Mary Baker Eddy’s book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,
“Desire is prayer; … .”
I asked myself what I honestly desired for this man. An answer came quickly and clearly: I truly desired progress for him. So I wholeheartedly prayed that he experience progress in his life.
I love this line from Science and Health: “… progress is the law of God, whose law demands of us only what we can certainly fulfil” (p. 233). I saw that even though this individual was incarcerated for a series of deplorable crimes, God’s law of progress was still at work in his life. This law is in effect everywhere, for everyone, and when we yield to it, God’s law changes and uplifts our lives. So I prayed that God would bless this man, acknowledging that progress was taking place because it’s the law of God.
Do I have more to learn about forgiveness? Oh yes! But what I do know is that my prayer that day was completely honest, and I trust that it blessed this man in some way. I know it blessed me. That morning I was immediately healed of the flu, and I clearly remember the health and joy that followed.
I’m so thankful that the law of progress is at work in my life and in every individual’s life, for the practical guidance of the Bible, and for Science and Health, which illumines the Bible’s holy, life-transforming message.
Framingham, Massachusetts, US
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