There was no going back. My feelings were hurt and my defenses were up and ready to fight back. If I were to have soberly assessed the situation, I would have known fighting back was not going to be successful because it never had been in the past, yet it was my natural response when I felt someone was coming against me with rude words or hurtful deeds. Plus, in those moments, there is usually no room for self-reflection; that happens later on in the night when it’s all over and you are sitting in regret with how you just behaved.
But in the moment, I couldn’t see the regret I was going to feel; all I could see was the need to protect myself. My response? Lose control. Say everything hurtful you can think of and don’t back down; make sure you are heard; make sure you hurt them back. Protect yourself from the persecution and win.
Yet the truth is, we can’t win when we react. When we lose our self-control and allow our emotions to run the show, we are more susceptible to the tricks of the enemy – the ones that long to break relationships and steal friendships. Proverbs 25:28 says, “Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.” When we lose our self-control, we no longer have what it takes to be victorious over a situation.
We can’t win when we react.
And I get it: it is hard to not react when you feel you need to protect yourself. Trust me, reacting was my go-to for many, many years. Yet, it was never successful. It never helped a situation but was guaranteed to hurt it. It never strengthened a relationship but almost ended many, and did end some.
Once I decided to start doing what Jesus says to do, things got a whole lot better. Imagine that! It’s like He knew what he was talking about or something. And it’s actually pretty simple: pray.
When we go straight to prayer, we are able to respond in love.
Going straight to prayer in the midst of conflict or persecution or the like is how we are supposed to handle these situations. Because when we go straight to prayer, we are able to respond in love. I say it’s easy because it seems simple enough, yet I’ll be honest, in the moment, it isn’t always the easiest thing to do. So here are four quick tips for going straight to prayer:
Pray for God to enter the situation.
When you feel a situation starting to turn sour, pray and invite God into the middle of it. Pray for his presence. God’s presence is powerful and it has the ability to change any situation to one that will bring him glory and honor.
Pray for your heart to remain at peace.
Recite to yourself, “God I trust you, and I trust you will help me.” Pray for his peace to flood over you because when God’s peace is your driving force, you will have more self-control and therefore be able to respond in love rather than react in anger or fear.
Pray for the other person.
Pray for whoever is in this with you because, chances are, they are hurting too. Pray for their peace and for their heart to be so overcome by God’s love, they too respond instead of react.
Pray for wisdom.
Often times, in the middle of conflict or disagreement, two people aren’t seeing eye-to-eye on something. Praying for wisdom, for knowledge and understanding – for you and the other person – is vital. God says he will give wisdom without finding fault, so long as we truly believe. So in these moments, even if you’ve already reacted and you’re trying to retract, pray for wisdom. Pray to understand the other person and for the other person to be able to hear and understand you.
Prayer is so powerful. It has the ability to change hearts, situations, environments, and more. Therefore, always go straight to prayer. Regardless of what you’re facing, communication with God will always prove to be the right choice. Then, with his strength and grace as your protection, you will be able to effectively respond in love.