Praying Violently: Using The Imprecatory Psalms in Spiritual Warfare
by Donavon L Riley
In the spiritual battles that we engage in against the evil one, his angels, and his allies, we find solace and strength in the timeless verses of the Bible. Among these verses, there exists a collection known as the Imprecatory Psalms, a series of raw and unapologetic prayers that cry out for God’s judgment and justice upon the wicked. In this article, we will delve into the depths of these powerful psalms, learning how they can serve as a potent weapon in our arsenal when engaged in spiritual warfare.
The Imprecatory Psalms: Prayers of Righteous Anguish
The Imprecatory Psalms, such as Psalm 109 and Psalm 137, are unlike the soothing hymns of praise or the comforting words of solace we often associate with the Psalter. Instead, they are prayers of righteous anguish, fervent cries for God’s intervention against the enemies of the psalmists. These psalms reveal the raw emotions of the writers, who, in the face of oppression, injustice, and persecution, turn in faith to God as their avenger.
A Weapon of Spiritual Warfare: Righteous Indignation
In our daily battles, we, too, face adversaries who seek to ensnare us, but the enemies that we wrestle against are not only flesh and blood. They are also, as the apostle Paul warns the Ephesian Christians, principalities, powers, the rulers of the darkness of this age, and spiritual armies of wickedness in the heavenly places.
The Imprecatory Psalms teach us the importance of not seeing our enemies as merely human or earthly opponents, but spiritual enemies who oppose Jesus Christ, his Christians, and the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, they are worthy of our righteous indignation. The Imprecatory Psalms also instruct us that it is not wrong to desire God’s justice against those who perpetrate evil, because we are not strong enough to fight even one of the devil’s angels by ourselves.
For example, Psalm 58:6-8 declares, “Break the teeth in their mouths, O God; tear out, O Lord, the fangs of the lions! Let them vanish like water that runs away; when he aims his arrows, let them be blunted.” This is not a call for personal vengeance but a plea for divine intervention against unrepentant evildoers.
Praying for Redemption: The Higher Purpose
While the Imprecatory Psalms may seem harsh to those who are ignorant of the reality of spiritual warfare as described by God’s Word, they ultimately express the psalmists’ desire for God’s righteousness to prevail. These prayers, intense in their emotion, reflect the psalmist’s longing for the redemption and restoration of God’s people.
Psalm 139:19-22 exemplifies this by stating, “Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me! They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain! Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?” In praying for the downfall of the wicked, the psalmists beseech God to clear the path for his justice and mercy to shine through.
A Guiding Light in Spiritual Warfare
In the midst of the spiritual battles that find us, the Imprecatory Psalms are an indomitable weapon. God gives them to us, and commands us to pray them when we are engaged in battle, so it is not wrong to cry out for God’s justice to fall upon the forces of the devil, his angels, and his allies. While our prayers are to always be guided by our love for God in Jesus Christ, and compassion for others, there are going to be times every day when we, like the psalmists, will find ourselves in desperate need of divine intervention.
The Ultimate Victory: God’s Sovereignty
Ultimately, the Imprecatory Psalms assure us that victory belongs to our God, the Lord of Armies. When we are engaged in spiritual warfare, we will face formidable adversaries, but we can rest secure in the assurance that God is with us always and therefore, his justice will prevail.
Psalm 94:23 declares, “He will bring back on them their iniquity and wipe them out for their wickedness; the Lord our God will wipe them out.” As we are called to engage in spiritual warfare, we do so with the knowledge that we do not fight alone. We are called into service by a God who reigns supreme, and His justice will be done in and through us.
The Imprecatory Psalms, with their unapologetic cries for the full weight of God’s justice to fall upon his enemies, serve as a powerful weapon when we are engaged in spiritual warfare. They remind us of the importance of righteous indignation and our longing for God’s justice to prevail. So as we engage in battle against the evil one, his angels, and his allies, always trusting that victory belongs to the Lord, and our prayers, guided by his love and compassion, are a mighty weapon in his hands as he accomplishes his ultimate victory over the forces of evil in and through us.
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