Imprecatory Prayers?

With all of the study that takes place each week in the lead up to teaching a section of scripture, I often stumble across really good teaching by theologians and pastors whose mind is far more developed than my own. I greatly admire men like G.K. Beale, James Hamilton, Tom Schreiner, and D.A. Carson to name a few. I may not agree with them on every point, but often their wisdom and insight into passages of Scripture is very edifying.

The past few weeks/months I’ve been reading and studying closely the book of Revelation. In my notes on this site I’ve shown how the prayers of the saints in chapter six (the 5th “Seal”) actually serve as a catalyst for the judgments that God sends upon the earth. The power of prayer, and God’s ordination of it as a means through which He works, is plainly seen in these verses. But it leads to an interesting question: should we pray these kinds of imprecatory prayers? And if so, how ought we to think about and go about this?

In his commentary on Revelation, James Hamilton provides some wonderful insight that has been profitable for me, and perhaps would be worth your time to consider:

If you have ever wondered whether you should pray the imprecatory prayers of the Psalms, let me encourage you to look again at the way the martyrs pray for God to “avenge” their blood in 6:9-11. You bet you should pray those imprecatory prayers. Pray that God would either save His enemies, those who oppose the gospel and the people of God, that He would bring them to repentance, or if He is not going to do that, that He would thwart all their efforts to keep people from worshiping God by faith in Christ. Pray that God would either save those who destroy families and hurt little children or thwart all their efforts and keep them from doing further harm. Those prayers will be heard. Pray that God would either redeem people who are right now identifying with the seed of the serpent, or if he is not going to redeem them, that he would crush them and all their evil designs. God will answer those prayers.

Amen!

 

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Having Peace from God

I was meditating on Psalm 145 this morning, and found it to be of great comfort.  As I took a step back, I realized that the reason it is so comforting is because it explains the character of God so well.

Interestingly, if you look at all the self-help books out on the market today you will find no shortage of ideas for how to practically change this or that part of your life – even in the midst of a struggle or depression – all in order to achieve some measure of peace. Yet in Scripture we’re told that in order for the Christian to have a peaceful mind we must spend more time meditating on who God is, and less time on making a list of things we ought to do.

For David says:

On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
 

Certainly I am not opposed to lists (I am a habitual list maker, and proud of it!), but I think there is an overarching principle here: the more we think on who God is, the more we realize that instead of doing we need to be resting. Meditating on His character brings us to realize that He is powerful to save, provide, and shelter us in the storm. We are told of His goodness and His righteousness. He is just and yet He is love. This is a beautiful tension there that is not resolved – He is both just and merciful, righteous and kind and so on. David says:

The Lord is righteous in all his ways
and kind in all his works.
 

These truths cause us to wonder in awe of who He is, and bring blessing and peace to His children. Theologian Bruce Ware comments, “But these qualities, as amazing as they are, are reserved for those who truly seek and trust him and love him. God is near to those ‘who call on him’ (vs. 18), he fulfills the desire of those ‘who fear him’ (i.e. give him proper regard; vs. 19), he preserves all those ‘who love him’ (vs. 20).”

So God’s goodness is for those who are His own:

The Lord upholds all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food in due season.
You open your hand;
you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
he also hears their cry and saves them.
The Lord preserves all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy. 
 

These truths bring us peace, because the more we meditate upon the character of God, the more we realize that He will take care of us in every valley – indeed He is with us in every valley. The peace He gives is unlike the peace the world offers – it is far deeper and more satisfying.

However, in order to have this satisfaction and enjoy this peace, we must first be reconciled to God.  We achieve peace in life by first achieving peace with God.  We do this only by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, the perfect Son of God, the only One capable of imparting peace to our weary souls.  Believing in Him, trusting Him, casting all your life’s cares upon Him is the only way to everlasting peace.

Once you are at peace with God, a river of peace will flow from you and all the promises of God in Christ will be yours.  This is what Christ promises:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27)

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

If you need peace in your life, first you must have peace with God. I pray that you will be encouraged today to cast your cares upon Him. He is able to bear them all.