As Believers, we are called to pray continually. It is relatively easy to pray when the road of life is smooth. However, when we hit a bump (sometimes several in a row) in the road, it becomes more challenging to pray for ourselves or others’ situations. When the bump is a “man”hole – an instance where a person appears to be the source of stress – it takes spiritual maturity to address the situation effectively. John 16:33 reminds us “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
When you find yourself distracted, frustrated, confused, or otherwise offended by another person’s behavior, your feelings are also a signal to pray. In those tense situations, you must call forth and exercise your gifts so that the situation helps the offender and (you) the offended to learn and grow. When you find yourself encountering a difficult person, remind yourself to:
- Separate the action from the person – You are dealing with a spiritual problem, manifesting itself in the physical realm. The person is not the issue, the hindering spirit attached to them is the source of the problem. Ephesians 6:12 tell us that “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
- Focus on the need presented through the conflict – In many cases, the root of the issue is a lack of wisdom. James 1:5 assures us that “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” Oftentimes, nasty attitudes are the branch of a painful root.
Pride is also the source of many conflicts. People may go to great extremes when they are concerned about how others will perceive them. Proverbs 11:2 says “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”
- Walk in humility and compassion – As best you can, try to extend the same grace, mercy, and compassion to others that the Lord extends to you. Psalm 145:8 reminds us that “The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, Slow to anger and great in mercy.” He has provided a wonderful template for us to follow. Philippians 2:3-4 charges us to “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
- Exercise patience – According to Psalm 20:3 ” It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling.” Author Kevin Murriel once stated “We do not have to give ignorance an audience.” You can walk away and still pray! Colossians 1:9-11 admonishes “For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,”
- Operate in love – Galatians 5:14 states that “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Proverbs 10:12 reminds us that “Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.” Forgiveness is part of the exercise of love. Forgiveness opens our hearts, and liberates our spirits, freeing us up to pray effectively. Colossians 3:12-14 says that we are to “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”