One of my joys in the past year has been attending a women’s Bible study class, led for 46 years by a godly woman. We have been studying the Book of Jeremiah, a prophet who remained steadfast for forty years in the face of rejection and persecution. Israel was in decline–much like I believe America is now. This week she gave us a few guidelines for praying for leaders. Pray, of course, for strength and wisdom for godly leaders. Ja. 5:16 “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”
But there is a place for imprecatory prayer for evildoers/ evil leaders. She used as an example David’s prayer against Ahithophel who had defected to Absalom in 2 Samuel 15:31. Here are her suggestions:
#1. Pray that God confound their plans, bringing them confusion and disarray
#2. Pray that the unity of the evildoers’ associations break up
Prov. 21:30 “There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the Lord.”
#3. Pray that evil leaders lose the confidence and allegiance of their followers, and that
they lose credibility, by heeding wrong counsel.
#4. That evildoers lose their platforms, their venues, their opportunities.
#5. That evildoers make statements that “come back to bite them.”
#6. That evildoers fall into the pit they dig for others.
Prov. 26:27 “Whoso digs a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolls a stone, it will return upon him.”
Prov.28:10 “Whoso causes the righteous to go astray in an evil way, he shall fall himself into his own pit; but the upright shall have good things in possession.”
Rom. 12:19 “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay,’ saith the Lord.” (So I guess this means that we don’t pray that they are killed or get an incurable disease. God will ultimately handle them.)
This was the first time I had heard something so specific and practical on this topic. I have prayed for leaders to have wisdom and make good judgments, but that is hardly likely for those who are godless. Anyway, let me know whether you think these are good suggestions; I really think they are helpful.
Thanks much for the interesting e-mail. I agree with you that I have never heard anyone teach so specifically and practically on this topic. It is a very interesting take on it, and it seems to be with good Biblical backing. I will comment on the passages in question as well.
II Samuel 15:31. Praying that the counsels of evil men who have set themselves up against the Lord will lead them to failure certainly does seem like an appropriate thing to do. That is certainly what David is doing in this passage. Praying, “God, give our leaders success” when their objective is to make Christian ideas or morality illegal does not seem at all appropriate. Praying that they will lose allies in their cause and that the unity of their associations will come to an end also seems appropriate.
Proverbs 21:30. Ultimately, the Lord cannot be overcome or defeated. The same is not always true of His people, however. This verse seems to be specifically speaking of anyone plotting to destroy the plans and purposes of the Lord. This would show itself true in the life of anyone who plotted, for example, to force the Lord to act in some way other than in grace or than in secret today. Any such plot would be doomed to failure. Of course, it is as often His people who beg the Lord to do this as anyone else, but their prayers are not granted. I do not know that I would apply this to governments in our day, other than to say if they set themselves against the Lord, they cannot really succeed in doing anything against Him, but they certainly can do things against His people.
Proverbs 26:27. This seems like it could well be an appropriate prayer. Though I do not think that God is in the business of judging (giving people what they deserve,) it does seem appropriate to suggest that evildoers might fall into the very traps they themselves have set.
Proverbs 28:10. Often those who cause others to go astray in the same way they are going astray will fall from the natural consequences of their own wicked actions. Again I do not think that God will directly cause them to fall, however, at least not until the kingdom comes.
Romans 12:19. This statement was made in the kingdom of God, when God will definitely avenge His people, as He did with Herod after he put James to death. However, we cannot count on Him avenging us in this dispensation of grace. Any vengeance He deals out will not be until this dispensation is ended and the kingdom has begun.
I would say that the principles suggested are good, but I would question the application of some of the verses cited directly to the dispensation of grace. I would say that the principle of praying that the plots of wicked rulers against what is right and good might fail is a legitimate way to pray, though praying for death or dismemberment for those leaders would not be appropriate in this dispensation. According to I Timothy 2:1-2, we are to give thanks for kings and all those in authority, so we should always try to be thankful for those things our rulers do enact that are good and beneficial for us. To intercede that wicked schemes of theirs would fail does not seem inappropriate to me at all, however. It certainly would not be right to pray that they would succeed in whatever they do, no matter how wicked it is. That would neither be loving nor right.