As you read this musing, I will most likely be touring around England (hopefully on the correct side of the road). I do enjoy reading things from English history and so I paid particular attention to an interesting section I recently found in John Ortberg’s book Who is this Man? (By the by, it is a good book and worthy of a read.)
He was telling about some hot springs found near Bath. Apparently 2000 years ago, there was a Roman worship center and spa at that location. Modern excavations have found a number of tablets that contained various prayers. They are called “curse tablets” because they detail hurts and crimes committed against people who in turn memorialized their perpetrator’s “curse” on a tablet and then offered it to the gods.
One curse tablet declared, “Docimedus has lost two gloves. He asks that the person who has stolen them should lose his mind and his eyes in the temple at the palace where the goddess appoints.”
Another one got a bit more specific with his curse, “I invoke you, holy angels and holy names…tie up, block, strike, overthrow, harm, destroy, kill and shatter Eucherios the charioteer and all his horses tomorrow. Let the starting gates not open properly. Let him collapse, let him be bound. Let him be broken up and let him be dragged behind.”
Tough crowd. Tough tablets.
On the other hand, as much digging as they have done, no one has discovered any “bless my enemy tablets.” There are no tablets that record the message of Proverbs 24:17, “Do not gloat when your enemy falls, when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice.”
And unfortunately, they haven’t found any prayers immortalized in stone that reflect the injunction found in Matthew 5 where we are told to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.
So, this week, let’s fix that. Let’s write some prayers down (paper will do) and make sure they contain blessings. Let’s honor someone who doesn’t really deserve it. Let’s pray for someone who has hurt us and ask God to bless them. We can do that because we know that it is the goodness of God that leads people to repentance (Rom.2:4).
A few hundred years from now, if they find our computers, let’s make sure they discover a whole ream of specific prayers that call for God’s blessing. We can demonstrate a completely different kind of living just by the way we pray for those who don’t deserve it!
No “cursing tablets” for the believer. Instead, let’s reflect on what Jesus said on the cross. “Father forgive them, for they don’t know what they do.”