But there are drawbacks to my old way of praying. One of them is that I first have to determine which people I am praying for are in need of benediction, and which in need of malediction. It's a lot of calculation, with scant amounts of data, and well ... when you get right down to it, we're all worthy of God's curse.
So, I've adapted the words of absolution from the Holy Communion service in the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, and I pray it for all of the people in my life: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
I pray this:
Have mercy upon [them]; pardon and deliver [them] from all [their] sins; confirm and strengthen [them] in all goodness; and bring [them] to everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
There are 6 petitions here:
(1) That God would have mercy on the people for whom we pray. We all need this.
(2) For bad people (sinners) to be pardoned for their sins. Of course this implies with it conversion to Christ as a necessary condition for forgiveness.
(3) That these same bad people (all of us, I suppose) would be delivered from their sins. Think about it. Visualize your worst earthly enemy, and then imagine that person being delivered from all of his/her sins. Wouldn't that be great? Some of them (us) would scarcely be recognizable!
(4) For those of us who have some good in us, that this good would be confirmed in us.
(5) That the good in people would be strengthened.
(6) That the object of our prayer would be brought to eternal life in Christ.
No longer do I have to calculate the goodness or badness of a person before praying. This prayer covers it all. Behold, the genius of the historic Book of Common Prayer!