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Imprecatory Prayer

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Calling Down God's Judgement

How many Christians claim to hate the sin but love the sinner? (And do they know this idea is based on Hinduism and not the Bible? See O-182). Usually, the claim is made with reference to something serious, such as murder or some other repugnant act. It is also used in connection with those who teach against God's word, or who oppose God in the vilest of ways. In this Article, we will briefly ask three questions:-

  1. Are the Christians who make the claim being honest?

  2. Is what they claim Biblical?

  3. Is imprecatory prayer a relic of the Old Testament and no longer applicable?

It is my personal view, based on observation, that those who say they 'love' the sinner who does something vile, are not being entirely honest... they may want to love the sinner, but inwardly, they do not. Rather, they feel as much disgust as does anyone else. Also, scripture does not exhort us to deal in friendly manner with blatant sinners, this being a natural emotional reaction and not a godly one. I also suspect that those who have had no personal contact with things that are horrendous find it fairly easy to say we should ‘love’ those who are wicked.

Reasons for Non-Compliance

Often, what we stop short at doing or saying, is openly found in scripture! Obvious examples are the commands to put to death murderers, adulterers and cultists. Today, even Believers refuse to accept these commands, though they are commands of the Lord, issued not just to uphold God’s laws and honour, but also because God gave them for our own protection.

Now, the world (and the church) is riddled with foul sins, because we refuse to follow God’s commands. Instead, Christians avoid vital doctrine in favour of ‘God loves everybody’! Such is to their discredit and loss (I say 'their' and not 'our' because I personally uphold the death penalty, etc.). It is true, though, that Christians are stopped from applying God’s laws by pagan or ungodly rulers.

It is likely that this refusal to enact God's laws is due to one or more factors. Such as an emotional dislike for 'violence' of any kind. Thus, an improper interpretation is placed on certain texts: "Thou shalt not kill" being a prime example. I have even read of Christians who claim they would just ‘roll-over’ if a murderer tried to kill them or their family! This is how evil affects and corrupts the Christian mind!

The majority of Believers tend to say this text condemns the death penalty. But, it does not, as the original Hebrew clearly indicates; to say such a thing is to make bare one’s illogic and non-understanding of God’s word. 'Kill' in this text means deliberate slaying (first degree murder), NOT the righteous putting to death of a murderer, or the killing of enemies in battle, or the slaying of an attacker intent on murdering us, in self-defence; the Bible uses separate words to distinguish legal and illegal killings. Nor does it apply to unintentional homicide (manslaughter). Also, the fact that God Himself regularly instructed the Hebrews to kill entire nations is sufficient to obliterate any argument for leniency!

Another possible reason for refusal is bad teaching. For many years, the churches have suffered at the hands of Arminianism. Whilst it is my contention, from scripture, that God will save whomever He will, regardless of error being taught by preachers, Arminianism is still heresy, hampers genuine spiritual growth, and fosters bad teachings and behaviour! If we know it exists in our churches, our preaching, or in our literature, then we must remove it, denounce, and renounce it. It is probably true to say that of all heresies Arminianism is the current, most rampant.

Arminianism is the cult of self with an acceptable front; acceptable only because it allows human beings to rule the process of salvation. It pretends to preach the true Gospel of Christ (through the idea of ‘love’ and ‘free will’), but actually teaches we can get to God by our own efforts. Strangely, most Arminians do not realise they are Arminians; they accept that we have no merit of our own, yet still preach the opposite! (See our various articles on Arminianism). I have lost count of the times well-meaning folk have told me that I am being 'unChristian' or 'unloving', when I use straight-talk against cultists and others who hate the Lord!

There are other possible reasons for non-compliance with certain commands of the Lord, but the two possibilities above will suffice. We may not wish to comply with what God says, but there is no excuse for the refusal. If God says it, then we have NO OPTION but to do it, whether it offends our sensibilities, or not. What offends US is irrelevant. What matters is what God wants. So, what does scripture tell us about this?


There is no such word in scripture. It is a Latin word combining two parts – one meaning ‘towards’ and the other meaning ‘to pray or ask’. Somehow this has been taken to mean ‘to invoke evil upon, or to curse’. The idea that imprecatory (an adjective) means to ‘curse’ is a guess, because ‘to curse’ is a synonym, and not the actual term. From this there developed the idea that such a prayer is ‘offensive’ and only said when someone is angry. I use none of this in my view of ‘imprecatory prayer’! It is not how I see its use in scripture... which, though it does not contain the actual word ‘imprecatory’, DOES contain its principles.

A ‘curse’ in the secular (and pseudo-Christian) sense is more connected to witchcraft than to scripture, and means something bad or evil. It is this non-scriptural sense that Arminians tend to latch on to, because it suits their refusal of true doctrine. God Himself cursed the ground after the sins of Adam and Eve. It meant that God no longer treated His creation as good (e.g. Genesis 8:21; qalal), but saw it as despised because of sin; this sense is linked to acting swiftly. Later, in chapter 12, God said He would curse those who cursed His people. In this text another word is used for ‘curse’ (‘arar); that is, God’s detestation of the enemies of His people. Indeed, a variety of words are used in the Old Testament for ‘curse’.

In Joshua 24:9, we find that when Israel adopted what is accursed to God, it became accursed as a nation. This is why we must be aware of what is accursed by God and what we tend to sanction, against His will. It is also why God warns us of the curse He placed upon homosexuals in the New Testament.

It is no trifling thing to allow something accursed to flourish, or to lend it sympathy! When we allow or turn a blind eye to something accursed, we become cursed ourselves. The word used is cherem. It means to be devoted to the accursed thing (by compliance or even by sympathy), to open the heart and mind up like a perforation (wound), and to be utterly destroyed by it.

Then, surprisingly, men “entered into a curse” to “walk in God’s law”. (Nehemiah 10:29). In this text, a ‘curse’ was an oath (as the context advises us) to do good, to obey God, and NOT to express something bad against others! As I always counsel – read words in their context and not as you wish them to be. The reason Arminians prefer to say an imprecatory prayer is a way of damning others or to call down something bad, is based on their reluctance to obey God and His word, and not on use of such prayer as per scripture.

Examples of Calling Down Judgment

See the above.

We may only pray against someone if God has already done so. How do we know in each case, who or what God has cursed? We find the principles in scripture! In Numbers 23:8 we see this principle:

“How shall I curse, whom God hath not cursed? or how shall I defy, whom the LORD hath not defied?”

The implication in this text is that we are allowed to curse, through imprecatory prayer, what or who God curses, but must not use such prayer where God does not condemn a thing or person. In verse 11, Balak rebuked Balaam for blessing an enemy instead of cursing them as instructed. (Also see 24:10) We see this subversion in the modern day acceptance of evils such as homosexuality and Islam, even amongst Christians.

In Deuteronomy 11:26 we see God applying both a blessing and a curse to Israel. The blessing is applied IF Israel obeyed the Lord. The curse applied IF Israel did NOT obey (they did so often!), or if they indulged in idolatry.

To confuse Arminians, we come to Job! In verse 11, we have:

“But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.”

In this text.’curse’ is an entirely different word, barak, which means to bless! It can mean a usual ‘curse’, but it is not the main or even secondary meaning in the verse. To confuse further, the word ‘bless’ is attached to a modifying negation, lo’. That is, God would allow everything in his life to be touched by disaster. What I wish to point out is that words are not always what they seem. We must be careful to use them as scripture presents them (keeping in mind that we are reading a translation). For example, Job’s wife, upset by the way Job was being holy in the face of God’s curses, used the same word, barak, in the hope that Job would defy God for bringing his life to ruin.

In Proverbs 3:33 we see there is a ‘standing curse’ of God on the wicked. Thus, imprecatory prayer is only a reinforcement of what God has already declared. As the wicked are with us always, it is logical to say that the curse of God upon them remains to the end of time, allowing us to pray against them in our day.

Those who cause harm to the people deliberately are to be cursed (Proverbs 11:26). Though the text refers to corn/food, the same principle applies to harm done by wicked people in any form – such as homosexuality, Islamic violence, cultic preaching, and so on. And, in Proverbs 24:24 we find that approving of the wicked, as if they were acceptable, is a cause to utter a curse upon not just the wicked but also on those who approve of them.

Let this be a warning to Christians who approve what God hates! In this text, it is the people who curse the complicit ones, because they curse with God’s prompting. They naqab – pierce or injure them with rebuke. When we watch supposed Christians praise and support homosexuals and Islamists, we should fear the consequences, for such believers are defying the most holy Lord. To save them from their ignorance and sin, genuine believers MUST speak against these wicked people and warn them they are cursed by God if they do not turn to righteousness. This is a major reason why my writing often contains such rebuke in the strongest terms. When Christians are hardened by such sin, soft words are not sufficient. The harder words are not uttered in hate, but in love.

Many of the psalms by David contain imprecatory prayers asking God to destroy his enemies, who were physical, such as the Philistines. On several occasions we read that David’s army was victorious because God had stepped in and ruined the enemy forces. We see the same in Jeremiah 24:9, for instance. In this text the wicked are cursed no matter what they do, or wherever they go. I am convinced that the present day Islamic jihadists in the Middle East, and wherever they may be, are thus cursed by their own beliefs and vile actions, and should not be supported, praised or condoned at any time. Nor should anyone ‘have dialogue’ with them.

In 29:18 the ‘enemy’ is cursed not only in their bodies, but also in their food supplies and with health disorders. Is not the latter curse found in AIDS? Jeremiah is full of such curses upon the wicked. And when we see what is happening in Europe and especially the UK (thought by the rest of the world to be a centre for all things evil), we can see the application of Jeremiah 44:22. This puts into question why the UK suffered a deep financial recession that is still prevalent and why our society is sliding into a sinful pit.

Then, what do you make of Lamentations 3:64-on?

“Render unto them a recompence, O LORD, according to the work of their hands.

Give them sorrow of heart, thy curse unto them.

Persecute and destroy them in anger from under the heavens of the LORD.”

New Testament Imprecations?

Yes, even in the New Testament we find imprecation against enemies. We should bless them that hurt us or curse us. BUT – this is not a blind-eye activity. Nor is it a teaching that we should turn the other cheek always. We can turn the other cheek to those who are our personal enemies; those who individually attack us. This is what the saying means. When it comes to a widespread movement, even worldwide, the same saying does not apply, just as forgiveness cannot be given to someone anonymous or unknown to us, if they do not seek forgiveness.

We may not curse others in the sense of personally bringing doom upon them. But, God does so with impunity. This means that whilst we cannot seek the harm of enemies in person, we CAN speak the words of God, Who DOES seek their harm! Logically, this also means we may rely on God delivering us from enemies, by His working against them, perhaps even to death (this is how I see the AIDS pandemic, which kills many homosexuals, or the deaths of virulent Islamic terrorists who die by the sword). Though we may not curse enemies, we come across the curse of God upon them anyway:

“For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” (Galatians 3:10)

Again, there are implications. The unsaved are cursed already, even though many may not commit atrocities or are wicked. They are cursed anyway. Note, too, that those who KNOW God’s law and refuse to do it, are also cursed by God. This is an open warning to all Christians who think they can sin either secretly or openly, or if they condone or accept what is evil in God’s sight. (epikataratos – accursed, seen as filthy or unacceptable, inviting divine judgment). This warning, by the way, is not just on the saved, but mainly on the unsaved, unbelievers, those who are ‘without’. The curse, though, does not affect the heavenly destination of the saved, though it can damage their earthly existence. Ananias and Saphira prove the point.

James 3:9 is another problem text for Arminians:

“Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.”

In this verse ‘curse’ means what it says. Indeed, throughout the New Testament we are told to hate sin and so we have no right to love those sinners whom God says He hates, except in the bland sense of the word (e.g. respect them as people though we may not respect what they say or do). We have already mentioned homosexuals, whose sin goes beyond simple theft or greed, etc. They have entered a form of sin that incorporates a multitude of sins; God sees them as ‘beyond the pale’ and this is why His condemnation does not carry a promise of salvation for the general pot of homosexuality. Rather, He condemns them outright to hell. As I have said many times, we must not accept, promote, or praise, or allow to continue without rebuke, those whom God hates.

The Evils Allowed without Imprecatory Prayer

One writer asks: “Is God angry in the Old Testament and loving in the New?” (Monash Christian Fellowship). This is a valid query, because so many Christians think the Old Testament has been abrogated by the New, even though Christ said otherwise. The implication is serious – that God has changed. God’s laws and attitudes never change. This is why certain prayers MUST be applied to the wicked.

Who are these people? (This is my personal view). They are those enemies, including movements, who keep on coming in vast numbers, deliberately harming Christians and speaking against the Lord. For most Christians these enemies are faceless and their activities are satanic. This is why I include homosexuals and Islamists at the top of the list. Their harm is so vile and continuous, that we have no respite. They bring shame and dishonour to our Lord. For this reason, as well as because I have no wish to be harmed, I call on God to remove their influence, or, if He deems it necessary, to remove them altogether by whatever means He wishes to use... even death.

I pray this against the EU leaders and those they influence – UK politicians, who themselves influence/oppress every part of society, and those who are allied and strong haters of God and us – groups such as Stonewall. I personally have no problem seeking God to remove them. We can pray for the salvation of individual enemies, but not for whole movements, whose personnel we rarely know, and whose activities are ‘beyond the pale’ and obviously satanic. To pray nothing against them is to be blind to what is happening, and to the very real harm they intend to inflict on all of society, Christians in particular. And to pray FOR them would be against God’s direct judgments against them.

Imprecatory prayer is not usually about destroying people. It is more to do with stopping their specific onslaught on Christians, though we may have the whole of society in mind at some times. Yet, if I were faced with a murderous enemy (such as present day Islamic ISIS), would I just accept their foul designs? No, I would not. Would I ask God to remove them, even if it meant they had to die? Yes, I would. What if they were in front of me, coming to slaughter me or my family? I would fight them with all my limited might, whilst praying to the Lord to destroy them. Any Christian who says otherwise is either a liar or deluded.

‘Vengeance is mine’, says the Lord... but this does not mean we must lay under the jackboot of an enemy, like a beaten dog! This is more like allowing oneself to become a slave – something warned against by God. Every Christian should experience righteous indignation and anger; if he does not, then I fear for the health of his spirit. We MUST ask God to mete out justice against those whose actions are demonic and vile.

Indeed, the Berean Call wrote that “Imprecatory Prayer is now our duty” (13th February 2013). It mentions one pastor who intended to hold imprecatory prayer meetings every week, mentioning that Calvin said the ‘righteous have dominion, but only through imprecatory prayers against the ungodly.’ Or, to put it another way, when Christians do not act in their usual namby-pamby way, inviting enemies to kick them in the face at every opportunity!

Jesus made an imprecatory prophecy against all Jews, for their refusal to accept Him as the Messiah – it was their judgment to lose their nation in 70 AD! And did not Paul pronounce the gravest judgment against those who rejected the Gospel? (1 Corinthians 16:22). Remember, too, that New Testament writers did not hide away from imprecatory Psalms. I could go on, for evidence of imprecatory prayers in scripture is abundant. It is not to do with personal hatred – it is to do with honouring the Lord and asking God to cause the demise of wicked enemies.

© March 2015

Published on www.christiandoctrine.com

Bible Theology Ministries - PO Box 415, Swansea, SA5 8YH
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