Imprecatory Prayer...when?

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JM

Puritan Board Doctor
When should Christians pray imprecatory prayers?

Yours in the Lord,

jm
 

JimmyH

Puritan Board Senior
When the Spirit moves you ? I pray every day that those who persecute my brothers and sisters in Christ, for His names sake, will either come to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ or fall by the edge of the sword. Every day for many years. Don't ask me what I pray for the BIden/Harris/Rice regime.
 

Jerrod Hess

Puritan Board Freshman
All day, every day, against everyone. /s

Great discernment is often required in these, since we are sinful, and our anger being entirely righteous without any sinful passions is rare. But I will say I pray imprecatorily every day against the wicked who slaughter children in the womb, and often against our government. That if God will not destroy them in Christ (save them), that God will destroy them utterly.

There is also not a shred of evidence that imprecatory prayers are limited to the Old Testament Church.
 
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arapahoepark

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I have tended to see and use them, generally, against Christ's enemies and sinful behavior. I think advocating it against specific people invites something less than loving your enemies.
 

JM

Puritan Board Doctor
When the Spirit moves you ? I pray every day that those who persecute my brothers and sisters in Christ, for His names sake, will either come to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ or fall by the edge of the sword. Every day for many years. Don't ask me what I pray for the BIden/Harris/Rice regime.
So if the Spirit moves me to pray for the death of God's enemies I should?
 

JM

Puritan Board Doctor
I have tended to see and use them, generally, against Christ's enemies and sinful behavior. I think advocating it against specific people invites something less than loving your enemies.
Loving your enemies means treating them lawfully not a warm fussy feeling....no?
 

JM

Puritan Board Doctor
My prayer is that they would come to a saving knowledge or fall by the sword. It is not for their destruction only.
Agreed.

Is there ever a point where God gives sinners over to a reprobate mind and should we pray for the destruction of reprobates?

Jeremiah 12:3 But thou, O Lord, knowest me: thou hast seen me, and tried mine heart toward thee: pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and prepare them for the day of slaughter.

I'm just sorting things out, thanks for the help.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
In our corrupt state, we call good, evil, and evil, good. Our hearts are deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. In addition, the Lord often uses the sinful actions of his enemies for our good. (You can't wisely imprecate Cyrus when he is the instrument of your deliverance.) With the exception of the devil, the world, and our flesh, we don't know the names of Christ's enemies. But thankfully, we can pray for the destruction of enmity itself, whether it's on earth, in heaven, or in our own hearts.
 

arapahoepark

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Loving your enemies means treating them lawfully not a warm fussy feeling....no?
It might be more than just merely treating them lawfully, like the Good Samaritan should the opportunity arise. But warm fuzzy feelings? No.
 

Ryan&Amber2013

Puritan Board Junior
That's personally not territory I go to. It is much better for me spiritually to just stick with the plain teaching of Jesus:

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:44‭-‬48

Of course I want evil to end desperately, but I will pray for a person's wicked ways to end through God changing their lives for the good, by being graceful to them just like He was to me.

The Psalms also speak this way:
Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord , and abhor those who are in rebellion against you? I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.
Psalms 139:21‭-‬22

In the era of the new testament, I see a major change in the way enemies are treated by God's people. I see Jesus and Paul calling Christ's followers to bless those who persecute them, to pray for those who persecute them, and to love those who hate them.

I will also add that this practice is what sets apart the Church from other religions. Other religions are quick to hate their enemies, to put curses on them, to wish them harm, and to persecute them, but I do not see this being the way of Christ.
 

Zach

Puritan Board Junior
When should Christians pray imprecatory prayers?

Yours in the Lord,

jm
When the typological theocratic context in which we most often see them offered in Scripture finds its eschatological fulfillment. Certainly since we live in the time of fulfillment without consummation there are ways we can appropriately pray them now (I believe, like our sister Jeri mentioned, that we can still appropriately pray and sing the imprecatory Psalms though I tend to do so with caution) but I think we ought to do so knowing that we don't know for certain who the Lord's enemies are and that when we pray, "Your Kingdom come, your will be done," we ought to be praying for repentance for particular peoples and overthrow and destruction of the Lord's enemies only generally since we don't know who among them might be the Lord's servants and our brothers and sisters. Thank God that the Lord answered the prayers of his people about Saul the Persecutor of the Church by making him Paul the Apostle and not by immediately striking him dead and casting him into hell!
 
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Taylor

Puritan Board Senior
I pray fairly regularly that the Lord would either convert Biden and Harris, or that he would remove them from their alleged office, either by deposition or death. And, yes, I call their names in my prayers. I don't think it's inappropriate at all to pray in this fashion. I don't do it out of hatred, but out of concern for Christ's Church in America. I don't just blanketly pray, "Lord, please slaughter them," but rather, "Lord, please convert them. If that is not your will, then please get them out of here, even if that means through their deaths." I and my church have prayed the same for the godless and wicked rulers of Eritrea, whose brutal persecution of Christians have left physical marks on the backs of men and women, even a pastor, in our own presbytery.
 

Zach

Puritan Board Junior
I pray fairly regularly that the Lord would either convert Biden and Harris, or that he would remove them from their alleged office, either by deposition or death. And, yes, I call their names in my prayers. I don't think it's inappropriate at all to pray in this fashion. I don't do it out of hatred, but out of concern for Christ's Church in America. I don't just blanketly pray, "Lord, please slaughter them," but rather, "Lord, please convert them. If that is not your will, then please get them out of here, even if that means through their deaths." I and my church have prayed the same for the godless and wicked rulers of Eritrea, whose brutal persecution of Christians have left physical marks on the backs of men and women, even a pastor, in our own presbytery.
Sounds like you're praying for President Pelosi, brother! I prefer to pray that the Lord will give long, long life to Uncle Joe and wisdom to govern reasonably well.
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Senior
Sounds like you're praying for President Pelosi, brother! I prefer to pray that the Lord will give long, long life to Uncle Joe and wisdom to govern reasonably well.
Fair point, except that I normally also pray, as I did this morning, that the Lord would destroy liberalism in general (and liberals—again, through conversion or destruction) in this and all other lands, and that good and even godly sense would be restored among the people. This is, in my view, part of what it means to pray, "Thy Kingdom come," which is expressed in Westminster Larger Catechism 191 thusly: "We pray, that the kingdom of sin and Satan may be destroyed," and "that [Christ] would be pleased so to exercise the kingdom of his power in all the world."
 

Zach

Puritan Board Junior
Fair point, except that I normally also pray, as I did this morning, that the Lord would destroy liberalism in general (and liberals—again, through conversion or destruction) in this and all other lands, and that good and even godly sense would be restored among the people. This is, in my view, part of what it means to pray, "Thy Kingdom come," which is expressed in Westminster Larger Catechism 191 thusly: "We pray, that the kingdom of sin and Satan may be destroyed," and "that [Christ] would be pleased so to exercise the kingdom of his power in all the world."
I'm mostly joking around with you but I think that our prayers to that end probably also include the destruction of a lot of conservatism and conservatives too! I usually just don't state them by name.
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Senior
I think that our prayers to that end probably also include the destruction of a lot of conservatism and conservatives too!
You’re very right, brother. And, to be honest, that is a glaring inconsistency on my part. Perhaps even an injustice. This is definitely a matter for prayer...
 

Jeri Tanner

Moderator
Staff member
The Psalms also speak this way:
Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord , and abhor those who are in rebellion against you? I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.
Psalms 139:21‭-‬22

In the era of the new testament, I see a major change in the way enemies are treated by God's people. I see Jesus and Paul calling Christ's followers to bless those who persecute them, to pray for those who persecute them, and to love those who hate them.
Be careful not to veer into New Covenant Theology-ish territory. The Psalms are as much for today as when they were written. We are still to hate, not individuals whose election or reprobation we have no knowledge of, but the “wicked” who hate God, persecute his church, do great evil and will never repent. And we don’t hate them with an emotional hate but with the kind of hatred God has for them.

You can’t pit Christ against the OT. He and his church are the speaker in Psalm 139.
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
In reading some of Douma this morning, I cam across a quotation that seems to help answer the “when” question. From his commentary on the 10 commandments, pg. 98 (context is in the discussion of the apostle Paul’s cursings):

As long as our name and honor are involved, Paul requires us to endure much abuse. But the honor of God and of Jesus Christ is another matter altogether. The apostle can become so inflamed with passion for God’s honor that he pronounces the most severe condemnation upon those who dishonor God’s majesty.

And Further:

The attitude of Paul and others is instructive, especially for today. Paul realized what love for one’s neighbor entailed and he did far more than simply talk about it. But he refused to identify God as an extension of human cooperativeness and solidarity. God possesses a unique name and a unique honor that must remain exalted, even when that leads to a short condemnation of His enemies. That unique honor of God must remain at the center of our consciousness, not as something incidental, something useful for our private worship, but as the primary duty in Christian living. Praise and prayer are not ornaments, but constitute the foundation for exercising our task in this world.
 
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Ryan&Amber2013

Puritan Board Junior
Be careful not to veer into New Covenant Theology-ish territory. The Psalms are as much for today as when they were written. We are still to hate, not individuals whose election or reprobation we have no knowledge of, but the “wicked” who hate God, persecute his church, do great evil and will never repent. And we don’t hate them with an emotional hate but with the kind of hatred God has for them.

You can’t pit Christ against the OT. He and his church are the speaker in Psalm 139.
Thank you for sharing you thoughts. I understand what you're saying theologically from an academic perspective, I just don't get it practically. I have people in my life who are atheists not living for God, but I genuinely love them, and they know I do, and it is my love for them that desires their conversion and causes me to invest in their lives that they may pursue what is good. What if all Christians hated people from other religions and those who don't love God? How would people know the love of Christ, who loved us and pursued us when we were dead in sin? I was converted through people investing their lives in mine when I was lost, and I'm grateful they loved me and didn't hate me. Please clarify where I'm wrong in thinking this. Thanks!
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
Thank you for sharing you thoughts. I understand what you're saying theologically from an academic perspective, I just don't get it practically. I have people in my life who are atheists not living for God, but I genuinely love them, and they know I do, and it is my love for them that desires their conversion and causes me to invest in their lives that they may pursue what is good. What if all Christians hated people from other religions and those who don't love God? How would people know the love of Christ, who loved us and pursued us when we were dead in sin? I was converted through people investing their lives in mine when I was lost, and I'm grateful they loved me and didn't hate me. Please clarify where I'm wrong in thinking this. Thanks!
Ryan,

You should continue to show love to your atheist friends! You are a blessing to them! However if your atheist friends were physically or verbally abusing your brothers and sisters in Christ, then you have biblical reasons to be angry and express that anger to your Heavenly Father. If soldiers beat and kill our brothers and sisters overseas then we have biblical grounds to call for the Lord’s judgment to stop them. None of that hinders you from desiring and asking for their conversion either.
 
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Ryan&Amber2013

Puritan Board Junior
Ryan,

You should continue to show love to your atheist friends! You are a blessing to them! However if your atheist friends were physically or verbally abusing your brothers and sisters in Christ, then you have biblical reasons to be angry and express that anger to your Heavenly Father. If soldiers beat and kill our brothers and sisters overseas then we have biblical grounds to call for the Lord’s judgment to stop them. None of that hinders you from desiring and asking for their conversion either.
Thanks for the reply! I get your point, I guess I just see the NT playing out differently. I think of Jesus on the cross, wanting those who are killing him to be forgiven, of Philip being stoned and wanting his murderers to be forgiven, and Paul saying he wished he could be cursed in place of those persecuting him. These examples just don't sound like hatred for our enemies, but love. On top of this we have the clear teachings to the Church from Jesus and Paul.

I am comfortable with expressing my anger to God over people's sin, but not with hating them and desiring eternal punishment for them.

I guess I'm not getting it.
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
Thanks for the reply! I get your point, I guess I just see the NT playing out differently. I think of Jesus on the cross, wanting those who are killing him to be forgiven, of Philip being stoned and wanting his murderers to be forgiven, and Paul saying he wished he could be cursed in place of those persecuting him. These examples just don't sound like hatred for our enemies, but love. On top of this we have the clear teachings to the Church from Jesus and Paul.

I am comfortable with expressing my anger to God over people's sin, but not with hating them and desiring eternal punishment for them.

I guess I'm not getting it.
I think we are agreeing more than not. Imprecations I think are best reserved towards wicked agendas and organizations that slander our Lord. After all we do live in a nation under judgment as I understand Romans 1. Of course for individuals we should be crying out for conversion knowing that we once were enemies.

I think Dr. Strange (@Alan D. Strange ) says it well here:
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Senior
Thanks for the reply! I get your point, I guess I just see the NT playing out differently. I think of Jesus on the cross, wanting those who are killing him to be forgiven, of Philip being stoned and wanting his murderers to be forgiven, and Paul saying he wished he could be cursed in place of those persecuting him. These examples just don't sound like hatred for our enemies, but love. On top of this we have the clear teachings to the Church from Jesus and Paul.

I am comfortable with expressing my anger to God over people's sin, but not with hating them and desiring eternal punishment for them.

I guess I'm not getting it.
There is a difference between "hating someone and desiring eternal punishment for them" and praying that God would execute his judgment on the wicked. When we pray that God would judge the wicked, we are only praying that he would be God. And praying such does not contradict our own experience of grace. There's no cognitive dissonance with these two things. Further, we are not praying exclusively for God's judgment on the wicked. Just like the Psalmists, we mix our imprecations with prayers for the salvation of the lost.

And, just to be clear, no one here is advocating that 1) we hate anyone in the sinful sense, 2) that we desire the damnation of anyone, or 3) that we pray imprecations to the exclusion of other types of petitions.
 

Ryan&Amber2013

Puritan Board Junior
I think we are agreeing more than not. Imprecations I think are best reserved towards wicked agendas and organizations that slander our Lord. After all we do live in a nation under judgment as I understand Romans 1. Of course for individuals we should be crying out for conversion knowing that we once were enemies.

I think Dr. Strange (@Alan D. Strange ) says it well here:
Thanks for the link. Dr. Strange's thoughts would fit more with my application I believe, I just never thought about it that way. Do you agree with his perspective?

"No part of the Bible is inappropriate for us as Christians as the whole Bible is the Word of God. However, everything in the OT, which pointed forward to our time, is now understood and interpreted in fulfillment. So when we as Christians pray the prayers of imprecation we do not pray for the destruction of the church's national enemies for, as noted above, we have none. We certainly have enemies of the cross and of our Lord, but they are not political enemies, because the church has no national and political identity.

When we pray imprecatory prayers with respect to the enemies of the cross, we pray that, as happened with us, they are destroyed as enemies and reconstituted as friends. In other words, to pray imprecatorily for the world is to pray that the world would be converted, ceasing its hostilities against the truth, repent, and become children of God, as we have become. As to ourselves, the imprecatory psalms serve as a prayer for our sanctification as we pray for the destruction of the devil and the flesh."
 
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