An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars.
Proverbs 18:19 (NLT)
I imagine we've all been there at some point in time—standing on the other side of the gate wondering how to get through the barrier of offence and back to relationship. Back to connection.
Offences hurt. Arguments wound. The Hebrew verb translated as offended is pasha, and it means to rebel, to transgress, to revolt; to be rebelled against. This is often how we feel—like who we are and what we value has been attacked. So we fight back, retaliating in kind; perpetuating the cycle of hurt. The walls get higher, the locks more difficult to crack.
Jesus commands us to take a different approach:
But I tell you who hear Me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you... Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful (Luke 6:26-27 & 35b-36, NIV).
It's counter-intuitive and counter-cultural, but in my own journey, I have found this to be a powerful and effective strategy, because not only does it protect my own heart, it gives me God's heart for the one who has hurt me. You cannot stay bound by hurt and offence when you are praying. Healthy boundaries may need to stay in place but walls of bitterness and unforgiveness come crashing down when we are on our knees for those who hurt and oppose us.
We live in a world that defends the right to be offended; to live as a victim. God invites us to instead live as sons and daughters of the Most High, entrusting our hurts and injustices to Him—the One who judges justly (1 Peter 2:23)—and refusing to be ensnared by offence.
Who is God asking you to pray for? Invite Him to empower you to love them as He does.
Confession: I used to avoid intercessory prayer. I thought it wasn’t my ‘spiritual gift’ and that it was therefore okay for me to leave it to those whom God had gifted in this way while I focused on other things.
It was somewhat of a wake-up call to realise that prayer was not a ‘gift’ some were blessed with, but the responsibility and privilege of every believer. An intimate space where God invites us to share and unburden our hearts but also to hear His; a place of communion with Him where lives are changed and situations transformed.
Perhaps this is why when Jesus taught the disciples to pray He started with the words, Our Father. A reminder that we do not pray to a distant, unknowable deity but a loving Father. Nor do we approach Him as strangers who have no right to ask Him for anything, but as children, His children – beloved members of His family who have access to the Father and all that He has.
After teaching His disciples what we now call ‘The Lord’s Prayer’, Jesus went on to tell them of a man who boldly went to a friend’s house in the middle of the night to ask for bread on behalf of another who had turned up unannounced on his doorstep and needed something to eat. His friend was annoyed to be woken, but got up and gave his friend what was needed because of his boldness to ask.
Jesus used this story to implore His disciples to ask so they might receive, reminding them that “If imperfect parents know how to lovingly take care of their children and give them what they need, how much more will the perfect heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit’s fullness when His children ask Him.” (Luke 11:13 TPT)
There is a world in need of bread – but not just any bread, the Bread of Life that is Jesus - and we are the ones who must ask for it. God is looking for sons and daughters who will boldly come to the Father on their behalf. Who will ask, confident in this goodness and generosity of His heart so that many more may receive His gift of life.
Who is the Father inviting you to ask for bread for?
Live today with purpose,