The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Prayer that harms

The former second vice president and a pastor of the Southern Baptist Convention, Wiley Drake, declared three times on national radio that he was praying for the death of President Barack Obama.

He says he’s practicing the age-old art of “imprecatory prayer” — a theological term for praying that bad things happen to bad people. He really does want God to smite Obama and says it’s in the Bible. Though Scripture says Jesus told his followers to love their enemies and pray for them, the Bible also depicts King David pleading with God to vanquish his adversaries.

But Walter Brueggemann, one of the world’s foremost Hebrew Bible scholars, likens such prayer to venting sessions with a divine psychotherapist: honest words that function as a safety valve against harmful action.


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February issue


Embracing diversity