I have often prayed for physical healing for myself and for my family members. I have prayed for healing for friends and coworkers and church members and for their family members. But for many years I rarely prayed for the healing of my enemies or those in competition with me.However there is a beautiful example of prayer for the healing of a rival in the Old Testament. Moses was the chosen leader of the people of Israel as they journeyed to the Promised Land, but he had married a Cushite woman. She probably had darker skin. Scripture says her ethnic identity was the reason Aaron and Miriam rebelled against Moses and his leadership.
This act of insubordination against Moses angered the Lord so much he caused Miriam’s skin to become leprous. This horrible disease stirred the loathing of Aaron who asked Moses to do something. Moses could have understandably ignored the request and let Miriam live with the consequences of her racism and talking against him.
But instead, Moses prayed to the Lord “Please, God, heal her!” It was a great expression of compassion and humility for Moses to pray for someone who was undercutting his leadership. And in response to Moses’s plea, God did heal her.
I find this story to be tremendously applicable in the normal flow of organizational life. It is all too easy to criticize leaders, leading to insubordination and subsequent suffering. It is also easy for leaders to be judgmental toward those who go against them or allow critical people to deal with their own pain.
But the example of Moses touches me deeply even though most people today don’t need such dramatic physical healing as much as they need emotional healing from other hurts or the spiritual consequences of their attitudes and actions.
So now when I find myself being criticized or attacked by someone I try to pray for their healing rather than for my vindication. As Moses prayed, “Please, God, heal her (or him!).”
How do you pray for your enemies? How would your attitude change if you began to pray for your enemies rather than seek personal vindication?
Bob Fryling is Publisher of InterVarsity Press and has recently written The Leadership Ellipse: Shaping How You Lead by who You Are. (IVP)