Prayer Requests and Learning How to Pray

3 Scriptures to Help You Pray for Your Bully

3 Scriptures to Help You Pray for Your Bully

It’s more likely than not that at some point in your life, you’ve dealt with a bully. Whether it’s a co-worker or a neighbor, a relative, or someone who calls themselves your “friend,” we all know someone who resorts to getting their way through intimidation or manipulation.

You may have tried to keep your cool with your bully by repeating to yourself the truths that we are all made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), and that hurt people hurt people. But that usually isn’t enough to keep your anxiety at bay and the dread you feel whenever your tormentor comes around.

There are several practical ways you can address a bully. These include standing up for yourself, distancing yourself, informing a superior or another authority figure, or, if warranted, getting the police involved.

All of these measures are helpful and, as Christians, we’re supposed to help each other stay on the straight and narrow by rebuking each other for unbiblical transgressions (Galatians 6:1). But God wants us to do something more: we must also pray for our bullies.

Admittedly, praying for a bully isn’t easy. And that task becomes monumentally harder when the bully is harassing your kid or someone else you love. But God never told us that this world would be easy. Instead, He gave us the way to navigate through it and to ultimately overcome it.

If you find yourself struggling to muster up the strength and humility to pray for someone who has been an aggressive figure in your life, you can turn to Scripture for help. Here are 3 Bible verses that can help you pray for your bully.

1. A command to love and pray for your enemies.

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:43-45).

In the original Hebrew, to “persecute” meant to pursue, oppress, or harass. Bullies definitely fit that bill. As such, we’re called to pray for them.

Scripture doesn’t tell you to pray for people who persecute you once they’ve seen the errors of their ways and have changed their behavior towards you. It’s pretty clear from the verse above that we’re to love and pray for our “enemies” even while they’re still acting like our enemies.

At first, you may have to pray for your bully through gritted teeth. As you continue to pray, peace will settle in and your feelings will eventually catch up with your actions if you’re consistent about praying for the person who’s antagonizing you. You may even start to see this person in a new light as it dawns on you that arm-twisting is the bully’s go-to behavior not just with you, but likely with others in his or her life.

Your composure in the face of persecution may dissuade the bully from targeting you, since a bully’s aim tends to be to get a rise out of their target to begin with. In a best-case scenario, your steadfast prayer may lead him or her to look inward and feel ashamed for his or her behavior. Influencing someone to mend their ways will not go unnoticed by your Creator, who promises that he who “turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins” (James 5:20).

2. A reminder that as you judge, you will be judged.

And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us (Matthew 6:12).

What Christian doesn’t recognize this section of the Lord’s Prayer as one of the toughest verses to pray and live by? However, this verse contains much wisdom because it reminds us of our own sinful nature and need for forgiveness.

Reflecting on the way you forgive others can be transformative. When you consistently keep in mind that the standard you use to judge others is the standard by which you’ll be judged, you’ve got a big incentive to start showing your wrongdoers more charity rather than severity.

There will be times, though, when forgiving someone is especially difficult. In these situations, the Bible teaches that a good time to extend forgiveness is during prayer, when our minds and hearts are united with God (Mark 11:25). It’s also vital to note that while you absolutely should separate yourself from any harmful person whenever possible, you do not have to separate your prayer for them.

By choosing to replace resentment with forgiveness when dealing with bullies, you’re following God’s command to love your enemy. You’re also laying down the groundwork for the standard by which you hope to be judged.

3. The possibility that your bully may have been put there to refine you.

As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are [God’s] ways higher than you ways and [His] thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:9).

There are people who enter your life to teach you a lesson. Having to face a bully day in and day out can give you the courage to finally leave a bad situation. Being bullied can also teach you how to effectively handle difficult personalities and, in certain cases, how to feel compassion for someone who is obviously hurting and doesn’t know how to constructively grapple with their pain. 

It's also very possible that the bully in your life is there to make you come to terms with your own past behavior. More to the point, if your bully’s behavior rings familiar, perhaps your bully is reflecting the way you’ve mistreated (or are still mistreating) someone yourself.

As with any other challenge in life, it’s important to learn the lesson inherent in the struggle. What you see now as a trying time may be a time you will look back on and be thankful for your own resilience. Or what may seem now like an unfair hardship may be a time your child will remember as a time when you modeled grace under fire.

Simply put, the fact that someone is targeting you is meant to teach you something about the situation you’re in, the associations you keep, or the ways you should (and shouldn’t) respond to being provoked. How your bully conducts himself speaks volumes of his character. How you react speaks volumes of yours.

Taking up the call to pray for your enemies goes against our natural inclination to see someone get their just desserts. As the Good Book tells us, God sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous alike (Matthew 5:45). We’d be wise to keep in mind that, in those times of rain on our and our bully’s heads, God also doles out justice as He—not we—see fit. It’s your job to trust in Him and keep praying. Peace be with you.

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/KatarzynaBialasiewicz 

Dolores Smyth is a nationally published faith and parenting writer. She draws inspiration for her writing from everyday life. Connect with her over Twitter @byDoloresSmyth.