Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Prayer for Enemies

The prayer below was composed during World War II in the Dachau prison camp by Nikolai Velimirovic, a Serbian Orthodox bishop who had been betrayed by friends and arrested for his anti-Nazi activities in Yougoslavia.
"Bless my enemies, O Lord.  Even I bless them and do not curse them. Enemies have driven me into your embrace more than friends have.  Friends have bound me to earth; enemies have loosed me from earth and have demolished all my aspirations in the world.

Enemies have made me a stranger in worldly realms and an extraneous inhabitant of the world.

Just as a hunted animal finds safer shelter than an unhunted animal does, so have I, persecuted by enemies, found the safest sanctuary, having ensconced myself beneath your tabernacle, where neither friends not enemies can slay my soul.

Bless my enemies, O Lord.  Even I bless and do not curse them...
(Quoted in Unconditional?: The Call of Jesus to Radical Forgiveness bu Brian Zahnd, page 42)

Let me repeat: This was written in Dachau concentration camp!  This is only part of the prayer; there are longer quotes in the book referenced above (which I will be talking about more in future posts). This is a man who understood the meaning of the words in Lord's Prayer.- "forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors."  (Matthew 6:12 ESV)

Can any of us claim to have more of an excuse for not forgiving than this man?