How to pray for someone you can’t stand

I’ve been working on this post for a while now. Twice I’ve written it and twice it’s disappeared.  I suppose it wasn’t ready for prime time just yet.

I know the title is a grabber, but I haven’t been able to wordsmith it any softer than that.

I cringe at the title and I’m the one who wrote it!

But yesterday I found myself thinking {again} about someone I can’t stand to be around. To know. To have any association with.

I have tried. For years. To no avail.

What is it, you ask?  Well, it’s a mix of many things and there’s a list as long as my arm.

At first, I thought things would be better off if I just prayed for them. I thought it would help me if I asked for mercies on their behalf. I thought and I thought and I thought … wrong.

Turns out, whenever I tried to pray for them, I just got madder.

Ornery. Downright unreasonable.


My heart wasn’t in it.  My heart just couldn’t get past the betrayals, the hurts, and that list … as long as my arm.

So, in desperation, I tried something new: I prayed that He might change them.

You can guess how that turned out.

Finally, I started to wonder if this person might be in my path for a reason.  And apparently I am supposed to learn something from them even if, for the life of me,  I don’t know what that is!

which one is it?

which one is it?

And then, after another restless night’s sleep, came clarity:  Trust in Me.

Huh, who’d have thought that the one needing prayer the most .. was the one saying them!

When Peter asked Jesus how many times we must forgive someone who has sinned against us, he was thinking that maybe seven times was enough. Jesus answered him, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matt. 18:22).

Tell me, how do you cope with hurtful people in your life?

Categories: Attitude, Faith, Growth, Personal, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 31 Comments

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31 thoughts on “How to pray for someone you can’t stand

  1. And now, I just bet that you’re going to find that person a little easier to be around!

  2. Avoid them as much as I can. It’s easier at work than it is in your personal life. I had a former sister-in-law that was toxic. She had the veneer of June Cleaver but underneath it, she was manipulative, controlling and the biggest grudge carrier I’ve ever known. That one only went away when her brother and I divorced! (insert Snoopy dance here!)

  3. A difficult situation…one I have but one answer for…pray.

  4. I block them…from my phone and when they come to mind…I reach for a better thought and picture them with a smile on their face. Then I just move to better thoughts.

  5. I’ve been in a similar situation and turned them over to God. Viola! I don’t know why it took me so long to figure that out. 🙂 Another situation is the grouchie profanity spewing customer who I TRY to be especially nice to. I might be the only “Bible” that they’ll encounter.

  6. Deb

    Oh no….. What happened now?!?!

    • Oh .. nothing new … this post has languished in my draft folder for months. It is on me to let go and let God. I’m working on just that! 🙂 MJ

  7. You KNOW I needed to read this, MJ! I have a daily struggle with a particular coworker. EVERY day I tell myself I will not let myself get bogged down by her antics and every day she just pushes the envelope more. Some days I can laugh about it, some days I’m gritting my teeth, some days I even feel sorry for her. But I never thought that there might be a lesson there for me. So thank you for your insights. I’ll go in tomorrow and try again and maybe not give up so quickly this time.

    • I thought about you as I wrote this, Terri b/c I think we work with the same person. The only + is that this person is not in my immediate office like yours is. So, for that, I’m thankful. Hang in there, tiger! I feel your pain/angst/frustration/anger!

  8. Pray. For both of you. I had to ask to find forgiveness, I couldn’t do it in my own strength. Forgiving them doesn’t mean you have to be best friends, it just gives you peace of mind. Some people will never change, but that’s ok. Forgiveness cuts the ropes that bind you.

  9. What a wonderful post, MJ. Sometimes, I’ve ultimately learned, that when facing folks like this, we need to pray that God would change US! What, me? Yes, YOU, God insists!

    Now that’s a lesson worth learning.

    Hugs from Ecuador,

    • Thank you, Kathy. I really struggled to write this, nearly as much as I struggled to learn the lesson – that sometimes, the one who needs to change is me.

      Bests to you!

  10. I wrote something today on Facebook based on the poem that Butch wrote. I can forgive, but I find I remember….the memories are embedded in my mind. I loved Patti’s response.

  11. cooper

    In order to flush out my own resentments toward others ( so they don’t fester and make me a loon) I pray that the object of my resentment gets everything that I have in life…peace, serenity…and then put the whole thing in God’s hands cuz there’s not another thing I can do about it. Not easy at times but seems to work for me. The other thing I look at is when someone does something that really grates on me – I look at my side of the street – what is it about the action, behavior etc that gets to me. A lot of the time I’m angry because I recognize some of the same traits in my own behavior.

    • I hear you, Coop. I have learned to have faith that it will all work itself out and that I might not be around to see the Karma bus back over them. I agree with you also that sometimes there’s something in another’s behavior that really gets our back up because we see how we could behave that way; I’ve realized that the biggest issue I have with this person is not just how terribly they treat me but how easily they’ve fooled others. Isn’t it odd that I can accept the horrible behavior ahead of the in-authenticity? Oh the stuff we do to ourselves!

  12. Well, everyone has someone like this! I’ve found that forgiveness is the best release. Sometimes the need to forgive is unspoken by the other person. I’ve just learned to do it anyway. Instead of concentrating on how much the other person has hurt/disappointed/angered me, I focus on being strong, being gracious, and rising above. That doesn’t mean I’ve figured it out…those are just my goals for the kind of person I want to be.

    I’ve also thought a lot about why people are like they are. “Hurt people hurt people.” When I begin to understand that someone’s bad behavior probably grew out of their own hurt and insecurity, I’m able to find compassion for the cause of their bad behavior. Doesn’t make it easy to tolerate difficult attitudes/behaviors, but it helps if I understand the source a little better.

    I hope you’re feeling better about this soon! With your wisdom, I’m sure you’ll sort it out. ~ Sheila

    • Thank you for your kind words, Sheila. All good thoughts, especially the “hurt people hurt people” – very true. Doesn’t make it right, but it makes it understandable .. sort of 🙂


  13. The title is provocative, and it hits us all close to home. There are people in our lives who seem to live for the pleasure of making us less happy. (Undoubtedly, they likely despise our cheerfulness and have made it a personal project to defeat it.) I recently heard Anne Lamott say we should all speak truth and it will resonate. You just did that. Love it.

    • Thank you, Renee. this was a hard post to write because I didn’t want to sound gripey and petty. Speaking the truth holds a lot of power, I’m learning as I go and I thank you for your insights 🙂

  14. I also needed to read this. Wonderful writing, MJ.

  15. I avoid them as much as possible!!

  16. Pingback: Crows and Eagles | Emjayandthem's Blog

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