Read Nehemiah 4:4-5
4 Hear, O our God, for we are despised; turn their taunt back on their own heads, and give them over as plunder in a land of captivity. 5 Do not cover their guilt, and do not let their sin be blotted out from your sight; for they have hurled insults in the face of the builders. (NRSV)
The Bible gives us numerous examples of how to pray. Here is one example of how not to pray. Nehemiah is understandably angry at the opposition he faces as he rebuilds the walls of Jerusalem. So he expresses his anger in this prayer.
It is one of those instances which cause us to realise that not every sentiment expressed in the Bible is a worthy sentiment. Even when expressed by otherwise godly people. The Bible is divinely inspired but also features fallible humans like you and me. And it records their fallibility with disturbing honesty.
If we face opposition, unjust persecution, attacks on what we perceive to be our Christian worldview, let’s not pray like Nehemiah. He wanted God to get stuck into his enemies. He didn’t want God to show them mercy. Here he is rather like Jonah, another flawed individual who demanded God punish the people of Nineveh.
In the New Testament we are told by Jesus and Paul to pray blessing on those who wound or oppose us. We pray that they may find mercy as we ourselves have found mercy. We certainly pray that evil plans are thwarted and that God has his way. But we don’t let it degenerate into personal hatred or bitterness. That means they have won and we have lost.
We who have received mercy must never deny the possibility of it to others.