People who love angry prayer.

Θυμοί/thymí, “anger,” is a work of the flesh. Ga 5.19 Period.

I know: For a lot of Christians there is no such period; anger is okay in various circumstances. ’Cause the LORD gets angry, Dt 4.21, 1Ki 11.9, 2Ch 25.15, Ps 60,1, Jr 10.10 and Jesus got angry that one time, Mk 3.5 and if God can get angry, we presume we can indulge our anger.

Forgetting, of course, God is absolutely in control of his emotions. Whereas we suck at it. We get angry, then forget all about loving people, take our revenge, get our satisfaction. We get murdery.

There are a lot of angry people in the world, and as a result there are a lot of angry Christians. And rather than get hold of their anger, fight it, and eliminate it by the time the sun goes down, Ep 4.26 angry Christians wanna embrace that anger, make it part of their character and lifestyle, and justify it as “righteous anger.” Even though there’s nothing at all righteous about how they wanna express their anger. They’re not seeking anyone’s good, nor God’s glory. They just want death and destruction.

So of course they wanna pray angry prayers. Again, they justify it by pointing out angry prayers are in the bible—and they’re right. The imprecatory psalms are a bunch of angry songs and prayers about God smiting David and Israel’s enemies. A lot of prophets prayed some really violent things about their neighbors. So, these angry Christians argue, we oughta be able to do likewise. These angry petitioners wrote Spirit-inspired bible, after all. While angry.

As I said in the angry prayers article, the reason the imprecatory psalms are in the bible is because God wants us to be honest with him. When we’re angry, he wants us to feel entirely free to tell him so, to tell him exactly what we’re feeling, and to hold nothing back. To do otherwise is hypocrisy, and he hates that. The last thing we should get is the idea there are off-topic subjects for God; that he’s too holy to discuss our issues, hangups, sins, problems, anything. So when our family and neighbors, even friends, certainly opponents and rivals, piss us off: Tell God so.

But of course angry Christians don’t really care about sharing themselves with God. Their angry prayers are about indulging the flesh: They wanna rage out, and now they can do it and call it good religion. It’s carnal, it’s harmful… and it’s popular.

Excuses, excuses.

I came across an article by one angry Christian who gave a big ol’ list of all the reasons we should pray imprecatory things against our enemies. Which he made a big point of insisting are God’s enemies, y’know; there’s Satan and its imps, there are antichrists and heretics and liberals, and he wants God to strike ’em all down. By jingo you’d better pray angry things:

  • Christians pray the psalms all the time, and how dare we skip the imprecatory psalms? What, are you nullifying scripture or something?
  • It’s not just an Old Testament thing either, ’cause Paul cursed people, 1Co 16.22, Ga 1.9 and the saints in Revelation called out for vengeance. Rv 6.10 So if you lean dispensationalist, it should make no difference.
  • God is just, and he’s gonna stamp out evil, as the bible says on multiple occasions. So let’s get on board with the bible, and encourage God to stamp ’em out right away!
  • In praying for the weak and needy, part of what makes ’em not weak and needy anymore is their oppressors get what’s coming to them. [Not flip ’em, like Jesus did with Paul; not forgive ’em, like he does with us.] So we kinda have to pray for God’s wrath upon those oppressors.
  • It’s not really vengefulness, ’cause we’re praying for God to take revenge on our behalf. So that makes everything all good.
  • It is being honest about how we feel, after all.

He had way more bullet points than I do, ’cause he got mighty redundant. I like to condense things, so I did. So he had excuse after excuse for why he should be able to pray angry prayers, and why any Christian should be able to pray angry prayers.

And lemme remind you: I don’t have an issue with praying angry prayers. We can pray such prayers. Often we should pray such prayers—’cause we’re angry, and we need God’s help with that!

Likewise we should pray against evil. God’s gonna vanquish evil, and we should totally be in favor of him doing that. The sooner the better.

But ultimately it doesn’t matter how valid the bullet points are, how true the excuses might be. The underlying issue is the motives of an angry Christian. Does he wanna pray an angry prayer to support Jesus and his kingdom, and glorify what God’s doing and going to do? Or does he just wanna rage against his frustrations, and feel self-righteous and justified for doing so?

Does he want to live a carnal lifestyle, and claim it’s really devout Christianity, full of prayer, conforming to God’s will? Does he even believe it’s not really Christianism, wherein he stays the same angry, bitter person he’s always been, but with a veneer of Christian jargon making it seem like something’s changed about him? Where he doesn’t love and forgive his enemies like Jesus taught; he figures his “tough love” is a valid substitute?

It always comes down to motives. What’s inside him? What’s inside us? A person motivated to follow the Holy Spirit wherever he might lead? Or someone who’s still as self-focused and self-pleasing as ever?

Let’s not fool ourselves. We’re certainly not fooling God.