For The Truth

Thursday, October 04, 2012

William Gurnall on Imprecatory Prayers

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How can Christian’s, who are called to “pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:44), pray like their forefathers such as in the Psalms, “O God, do not keep silence; do not hold your peace or be still, O God!” (Ps. 83:1) and such as in the ancient church, “Lord, look upon their threats” (Acts 4:29)?
Previously, I gave William Ames’ answer. From another of the Puritan party, William Gurnall, comes the following helpful directions.
  1. Take heed thou dost not make thy private particular enemies the object of thy imprecation. We have no warrant, when any wrong us, presently to go and call for fire from heaven upon them.
  2. When thou prayest against the enemies of God and his church, direct thy prayers rather against their plots than person.
  3. When praying against the persons of those that are open enemies to God and his church, it is safest to pray indefinitely and in general: ‘Let them all be confounded…that hate Zion,’ Ps. 129:5; because we know not who of them are implacable, and who not, and therefore cannot pray absolutely and peremptorily against particular persons.
  4. In praying against the implacable enemies of God and his church, the glory of God should be principally aimed at, and vengeance on them in order to that.
William Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armour (1864; repr., Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth, 2002), 2:444–448.


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