I am aware that this topic may be upsetting to people who believe in imprecatory prayers. Prayer, I believe, can be a ‘Weapon of Mass Destruction’ but it is good to know exactly what we are destroying: people or evil works? I believe that New Testament teaching supports the latter. “… For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:8). If I have to choose between my enemies dying or living, I’ll almost always choose the latter. Why? Because, sometimes, your enemies need to live long enough to realise that they were wrong about you!
Now, let me illustrate what I have said from the experience of David (see 2 Samuel 16:5-14; 19:15-23). As David was escaping from Absalom’s insurgency, a man named Shimei from the family of Saul met him and uttered grievous curses on David. In his mind, David was finished! However, the same man came back after David was restored to the throne to say he was wrong. He lived to reverse himself about David.
Sometimes, many of us are tempted to act like Abishai; we want to immediately take off the head of the enemy! If that happens, then we miss the pleasure of seeing the enemy reverse themselves. Ultimately, it is God’s prerogative to decide what to do about the ‘person.’ In the case of Shimei, he eventually paid for his folly.
Let me give another instance where people reversed their opinion about someone (see Acts 28:1-6). Paul had just escaped shipwreck and was lighting a fire when a snake came out and fastened itself on his hand. What did the islanders conclude about him? They said he was a murderer, that nemesis had caught up with him! But after waiting for so long to see Paul swell up and die (which didn’t happen), they changed their opinion about him. They concluded that he he was a god!
I don’t know about you, but I think it’s a great day when those who vowed that you’ll never get married receive your wedding invitation; when those who said you’ll never have a baby are invited to your child’s naming ceremony; when those who concluded that you’ll never amount to anything in life are invited to your house warming, etc. That’s obviously better.