How do I pray for my enemy?

Ellen is a 69-year-old Methodist who has been listening to Relevant Radio for ten years. She recently wrote an email to The Patrick Madrid Show regarding prayers for our enemies and how we should approach it:

I have many questions. However, the one right now that is troubling me is how do you pray for your enemy when that person is a communist dictator who is clearly ravaging an innocent country and its people? Help me find a prayer. I know God asked us to pray for our enemies, but I have no words. Please help me. Thank you.

Patrick commended Ellen for her deep desire to learn how to love her enemies, especially someone who may be committing grave evils. The secret, Patrick says, is that Jesus does not say that we have to hang out with these people, look upon them fondly, or even like them. These “enemies” in our lives might be ones who deeply antagonize us. In fact, that’s what enemies are. It’s only natural to feel a certain emotion when another commits a crime or an immoral act. We want to keep our emotions in check, but disapproval and righteous anger are not unnatural.

To love somebody means to seek the best for that person. If they are doing wrong, oppressing others, killing them, stealing and destroying property, they’re not doing what’s best for them and their soul. To pray for them does not have to be accompanied by some emotion of affection or endearment. In fact, quite the contrary. Reprehensible acts are reprehensible acts. But the aim of the prayer is that they will open themselves to God, recognize their wrongdoings, and repent.

In the Our Father, Jesus taught us, “…forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

“How do you pray for him? Well, pray that God would change his heart, change his mind, which is of course praying for a good outcome for him. Pray that God would have mercy on his soul. Pray that God would even, if necessary, remove him from the scene.” Of course, God’s will be done.

Patrick reassured Ellen that you are under no obligation to feel “warm and fuzzy” about praying for an enemy. It’s a difficult thing to do, but it is in everyone’s best interest to pray for what is best for their soul. As for specific prayers, Patrick recommended the Our Father and what are known as the imprecatory psalms.

The imprecatory psalms are those prayers found in the book of Psalms in which we see the Holy Spirit inspired David to call out for God’s help against his enemies. Not only did he ask for protection, but he asked that if it were God’s will, he would smite his enemies.

“Pray the rosary. Now, I don’t know which communist, atheistic country you have in mind, but one thing is for sure: The Blessed Virgin Mary, in her recent apparitions, in Fatima for example, said ‘Pray the rosary.’ Pray the rosary. Pray the rosary. It’s a powerful weapon and you can rest in the secure knowledge that when you pray the rosary, you’re invoking the intercession of Our Lady into that situation.”

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John Hanretty serves as a Digital Media Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of the Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas. Besides being passionate about writing, his hobbies include drawing and digital design. You can read more of his daily articles at and on the Relevant Radio® app.