A Different Kind of Prayer
June 17, 2009
A prayer for a curse, rather than for blessing? That sounds like cult stuff at first! But is it and where should we as Bible believing Christians stand on the matter?
The issue made front page news in The Baptist Standard, publishing arm of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. Wiley Drake, a former Southern Baptist Convention official said that after praying for 10 years for George Tiller of Kansas (a late term abortionist) to be converted, he changed his prayer to what is called an imprecatory prayer of judgment for Tiller. How passionately did you pray for the conversion of that killer of innocent babes in (almost ‘out of’) the womb? Mr. Drake was way ahead of me in that department.
But our question, what about this imprecatory prayer of judgment? Can Christians use such when we are told to pray for those who despitefully persecute us? What about those who use their power and abilities do destroy justice for the innocent and down-trodden? What about tyrants who in cruel violence destroy whole peoples who live under their thumbs?
It is time Christians stood up in passionate disagreement against such violence perpetrated by powerful and self-serving, self-exalting leaders and regimes. How should we have prayed for Hitler or Stalin or Nero, or Tiller; how should we pray for dictators in Sudan or Osama bin Laden?
Several things that we need to consider though as (or before) we pray this way:
• Consider your own sinful stance before an awesome and holy God who knows every thought, every intention, all words and all actions. This is a call for our repentance and honesty before our loving God.
• You are in no way planning to take vengeance on others out of your own initiative! Remember God has plainly said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.”
• Remember that this is your prayer. You are asking God and leaving the method, the timing, in fact the whole situation to His answer. (Here, we sometimes think we must act quickly, forgetting that we are pleading with God who has His own timetable, and His own way of dealing with the total scene.)
• Along with this we are not presuming to tell God “how” this prayer should be answered. Too often we pray for exact results and think God should answer in “just that way.”
Here is a biblical example. David was a shepherd boy before he became king of Israel. When his son Absalom tried to usurp the throne from his father, how did David pray? (See Psalm 3 and note the heading of that psalm before verse 1). He knew from his shepherding days that a toothless lion or bear was not very dangerous to the flock. And so he prays in v. 3:7b, “Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked.”
David was praying that the power, the authority of the enemy be broken so that the flock might not be harmed. He did not pray for specific results, but that God would deal with these enemies in a way that would render them powerless and their plans ineffectual – however God might do that. In sad truth, Absalom did die in his wrongful escapade, but that was not necessarily in David’s mind. In fact, David deeply loved Absalom and mourned his death (2 Sam. 15, 18).
Perhaps we should pray that those in power who are dealing wickedly with helpless people and innocent victims should at the very least be stripped of their power and strong-arm tactics. And at the very bottom, we who can intercede for these helpless ones should do so with passion.
More on the Bible passages that deal with imprecatory prayers in the next blog.