Praying the Psalms for Spiritual Warfare
Is it Scriptural?
The use of Psalms as a weapon in spiritual warfare is a biblically based practice completely backed by the word of God. How can it be unscriptural to use the word of God to counteract (undo) Satan's works in the lives of the Saints?
There is a lot of debate questioning the legitimacy of praying the imprecatory psalms. An imprecatory psalm calls for God to bring judgment, shame, defeat, scattering, confusion and the like upon the wicked.
These kinds of prayers are found all over the book of Psalms. For instance, in the 35th., the 69th., the 109th., the 137th., and the 139th. Psalm, the man of God prays:
"Let them be confounded and put to shame that seek after my soul…Let them be as chaff before the wind, and let the angel of the Lord chase them"; or in his description of the persecuted church praying against her oppressors: "Happy shall be he that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us"; or in his protest: "Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee? And am I not grieved with those that rise up against thee?"
Those who disagree with the psalmist read these verses and compare them to such New Testament admonitions like:
"But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you." Mat. 5:44.
They claim that David and other writers of the book of Psalms were wrong to have prayed these imprecatory prayers. Some have gone to the extreme of removing these Psalms from the Bible they use. For example, the Reformed Episcopal Church's 1963 Prayer Book has carefully removed these "cold-blooded" prayers. Many modern commentators are emphatic in their views that the imprecatory psalms are defective, uninspired outbursts that do not belong in the Bible. It is disappointing to find even C. S. Lewis in this camp. He speaks of these psalms as "devilish" and "diabolical."
These critics are quick to explain that the writers of these psalms should be excused and forgiven because they were living in the Old Testament times before the New Testament teachings of Christian love. They conclude by admonishing that these prayers should not be prayed by present day believers.
The claim that under the New Testament dispensation, there is no place for imprecatory prayers is not the strongest, but rather the weakest argument of Psalmist critics. They are wrong because:
1. Jesus used imprecations
The Lord Jesus taught and practiced unconditional love, but He also imprecated the unbelieving cities of Capernaum, Chorazin and Bethsaida. Also in Matthew chapter 23, we hear Jesus, thundering down "woes" upon the "teachers of the law and the Pharisees." The seven woes of verses 13, 15, 16, 23, 24, 27 and 29 all condemn and call forth judgment of God to fall on them in unequivocal terms. Do we have an inconsistency in the Savior's ministry? Not at all.
It is also interesting to note that the judgment Jesus pronounced on Judas in Matt.26:23-24 was actually taken from Psalm 41:9-10:
"And he answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me.
The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born."
"Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.0 But thou, O LORD, be merciful unto me, and raise me up, that I may requite them." Ps 41:9-10
The imprecations of Psalm 69 could be said to be the very words of Christ. This is because Psalm 69 is a Messianic Psalm spoken in the first person. The pronouncement of the unpardonable sin (Mark 3:22-30) was also an imprecation of the Lord Jesus. It was a judgment upon the Pharisees who had attributed His miracle-working power to the Devil.
It is important to note that the Old Testament is quoted in the New Testament approximately 283 times. 116 of these quotes are from the Book of Psalms alone. In so many of these scriptures, Jesus did not just quote from the Psalms, he personally identified with them.
Paul used imprecations
Paul was a man known for his love for the Lord and for the people Christ came to save. He was a spokesman for the Lord, writing many of the books in the New Testament. In his writings, we find imprecations similar to those used in the Book of Psalms:
1 Cor 16:22
If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.
"Anathema" means to be "cursed with a great curse."
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
I would they were even cut off which trouble you.
2 Tim 4:14
Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works:
It is easy to see from these verses that Paul believed in the Book of Psalms; "as is."
In Acts 23:3, we read:
"Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law?"
That sounds like imprecation. By the way, what Paul apologized later for was not the use of the imprecation but for the one against whom it was used.
Book of Revelation
The Book of Revelation uses imprecation in a similar way to those used in the psalms:
"And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?"
Were the inhabitants of the earth judged? A study of the Book of Revelation reveals that that this prayer did not go unanswered.
To those who claim that the New Testament teaches so much on love that it has no room for imprecations, I rest my case, with the above scriptures and explanations.
2. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." 2 Tim 3:16-17
Just as other passages of the scriptures, the book of Psalms was given by the inspiration of God and for a specific purpose. To question the authority of God's Word because some disagree with the way it is being used is to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Long ago, Eve began the tradition of questioning the authority of God's word. That is a tradition that has continued till today. But the fact is, we have neither the right nor the freedom to doubt the inspiration of the scriptures.
3. Those who claim that David was moved by anger, hatred and vindictiveness need to read 2 Peter 1:21;
"For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."
The prayers of David were Spirit inspired words, profitable for us if we emulate them. God's word stands above the reasoning and the wisdom of men.
To the twentieth Century apostles of love, who claim they love so much that they hate the prayers of David, I must say that the imprecatory psalms are not about hatred. They are not about the ravings of a carnal, vindictive spirit, they are the pleas of godly people for God to avenge then rather than them taking vengeance on their own initiative.
The emphasis of the imprecatory psalms is on God's attributes. God's honor should be recognized by the pagan as well as the godly through the destruction of wickedness-whether by conversion or otherwise.
It is God's purpose to bring down the evil empire of Satan in due time. But He is not going to do this with carnal weapons. Satan's kingdom can only be brought down by spiritual weapons. So far, the enemy has gained advantage by stopping the powerful prayers of the saints against his kingdom for entirely too long. The church has thought itself too good and too mature to pray these fiery war songs of justice.
In doing so, the church has unwittingly fallen for Satan's strategy. This has proven to be a costly error. Let us not be embarrassed by the timeless and infallible war on the Psalms. God gave them to the church as one of her most mighty weapons. We would be foolish to go to battle without them.
Praying the Psalms invigorates our communication with God because God's word is the expression of His will. When we allow the Bible to become our prayer, we experience an inspired vocabulary.
I have been using these scriptures for many years with wonderful results and I believe you will receive mighty breakthroughs as you use them also. Do not limit yourself to the prayer points following the quoted scriptures. Come up with more prayer points that tie in with the preceding scriptures. Your prayer life will never be the same.
Fiery Prayer Points Lord, let every rage and every vain imagination of the enemy against me amount to nothing, in Jesus name.
Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
Psalms 2:2 -3 Let every spiritual king and ruler taking counsel against me be dethroned, in Jesus name.
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying,
Psalms 2:3 Lord, break every band and destroy every demonic cord tying me down, in Jesus name.
Let the fire of the Lord descend and consume every ungodly agreement gathered together against me, in Jesus name.
Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.
Psalms 2:4 Thou power that sits in the heavens, laugh at the devices of my enemies in, Jesus name.
He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.
Psalms 2:5 O God, arise, speak angrily against all demonic opposition in my life.
Lord, vex them with your sore displeasure in Jesus name.
Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.
Psalms 2:9 Let your rod of iron break and shatter to irreparable pieces all demonic powers working against me, in Jesus name.
Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.
Psalms 3:2 Lord, raise up such a mighty help for me that those who say there is no help for me in You shall be astonished, in Jesus name.
Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God.
Psalms 3:3 Lord, be a shield around me against every onslaught of the enemy, in the name of Jesus.
Every spirit that bows men's head in discouragement and depression: be forever banished from my life, in Jesus name.
But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.
Psalms 3:4 Lord, hear my cry every time I pray, in Jesus name.
Lord, remove far from me whatever will hinder my words from ascending to heaven, in Jesus name.
I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah.
Psalms 3:6 O Lord, let fear for my opposers have no room in my life, in Jesus name.
I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people that have set themselves against me round about.
Psalms 3:7 Lord, smite every power of darkness working against me in Jesus name.
Let them be smitten upon the cheekbone and let their spiritual teeth be broken.
Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheekbone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly.
Psalms 5:3 I bind every power that seeks to hinder my prayer life.
Lord, let the grace to always look up to you be released to me, in Jesus name.
My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.
Psalms 35:1 Plead my cause O Lord, and contend with them that contend with me, in Jesus name.
Plead my cause, O LORD, with them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me.
Psalms 35:2 Lord, take hold of your shield and buckler, and defend me against the enemy, in Jesus name.
Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for mine help.
Psalms 35:3 God of my salvation, arise with your spear and stop all the attacks of the enemies against me, in Jesus name.
Draw out also the spear, and stop the way against them that persecute me: say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.
Psalms 35:4 I decree that shame and confusion shall be the portion of those that device my hurt and seek after my soul, in Jesus name.
Let them be confounded and put to shame that seek after my soul: let them be turned back and brought to confusion that devise my hurt.
Psalms 35:5 Let the wind of God blow away my enemies.
Let the angels of the Lord chase all of them away, in Jesus name.
Let them be as chaff before the wind: and let the angel of the LORD chase them.
Psalms 35:6 I command the ways of my enemies to be dark and slippery and…
I command the angel of the Lord to persecute them in Jesus name.
Let their way be dark and slippery: and let the angel of the LORD persecute them.
Psalms 35:7 Arise O Lord, and avenge me of every enemy digging pits and spreading nets for my destruction, in Jesus name.
For without cause have they hid for me their net in a pit, which without cause they have digged for my soul.
Psalms 35:8 Let unexpected destruction come upon my enemies in Jesus name.
Every pit and net that the enemies have set for me, I decree that they fall into them, in Jesus name.
Let destruction come upon him at unawares; and let his net that he hath hid catch himself: into that very destruction let him fall.
And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD: it shall rejoice in his salvation.
Psalms 35:10 Lord, deliver me from those that are too strong for me and let my soul be joyful in you.
All my bones shall say, LORD, who is like unto thee, which deliverest the poor from him that is too strong for him, yea, the poor and the needy from him that spoileth him?
Psalms 35:11 Deliver me from false witnesses that are charging me with things I am innocent of, in Jesus name.
False witnesses did rise up; they laid to my charge things that I knew not.
Psalms 35:12 Plead my cause O Lord, with those that reward me evil for good in Jesus name.
They rewarded me evil for good to the spoiling of my soul.
Psalms 35:17 Rescue my soul from the destruction of evil workers.
O Lord, deliver my household from lions, in Jesus name.
Lord, how long wilt thou look on? rescue my soul from their destructions, my darling from the lions.
Psalms 35:19 Lord, do not give the enemy the cause to rejoice over me, in Jesus name.
Let not them that are mine enemies wrongfully rejoice over me: neither let them wink with the eye that hate me without a cause.
Psalms 35:20 In the name of Jesus, I come against those that device deceitful matters against my soul, I nullify their counsels, in Jesus name.
For they speak not peace: but they devise deceitful matters against them that are quiet in the land.
Psalms 35:21 In the name of Jesus, I condemn every mouth that is opened wide against me, in Jesus name.
Yea, they opened their mouth wide against me, and said, Aha, aha, our eye hath seen it.
Psalms 35:23 Stir up yourself, O Lord and awake for my cause and judgment, in Jesus name.
Stir up thyself, and awake to my judgment, even unto my cause, my God and my Lord.
Psalms 35:24 Lord, let not my enemies rejoice over me, in Jesus name.
Judge me, O LORD my God, according to thy righteousness; and let them not rejoice over me.
Psalms 35:25 I decree that the counsels and the desires of the enemies against me shall not stand, in Jesus name.
Let them not say in their hearts, Ah, so would we have it: let them not say, We have swallowed him up.
Psalms 35:26 I decree that shame, confusion and dishonor shall be the portion of those that magnify themselves against me, in Jesus name.
Let them be ashamed and brought to confusion together that rejoice at mine hurt: let them be clothed with shame and dishonour that magnify themselves against me.
Psalms 91:3 Lord, deliver me from the snare of the fowler and from every noisome pestilence, in Jesus name.
Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
Psalms 91:5 Lord, give me the power that conquers every fear, in Jesus name.
I take authority over all the activities of night raiders in my life, in Jesus name.
I command every daytime arrow fired at me to return to sender, in Jesus name.
Lord, shield me from every pestilence that walketh in darkness and from the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
Psalms 91:7 Lord, I refuse to fall with those that fall, in Jesus name.
Lord, let no evil occurrence come near me, in Jesus name.
A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
Psalms 91:8 O Lord, let the reward of the wicked never be my portion, in Jesus name.
Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
Psalms 91:10 Lord, let no evil befall me in life, in Jesus name.
Let no evil come nigh my dwelling.
There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
Psalms 91:11 Lord, give your angels all necessary charge for my protection, in Jesus name.
Let your angels encamp around me and keep me in all my ways, in Jesus name.
For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
Psalms 91:12 Lord, let your angels bear me up and keep me from stumbling and falling, in Jesus name.
They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
Psalms 91:13 In the name of Jesus, I tread upon every lion and every dragon raising their head against me…
l render them powerless, in Jesus name.
Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.
Psalms 91:14 Lord, deliver me from all the attacks of the enemy and lift me up, in Jesus name.
Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.
Psalm 91:15 Lord, be with me in every trouble, deliver and honor me, in Jesus name.
He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.
Psalm 91:16 Lord, satisfy me with long life and always show me your salvation.
With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.
This article has been extracted from Dr. Itiola's book: Praying the Psalms for Spiritual Warfare. To purchase a copy, click here.
Adams J. E. War Psalms of the Prince of Peace. Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1991
Frame J. H. Imprecations: Holy Fire. www.thirdmill.org
Reid D. R. Please Zap them Lord. www.growingchristians.org
Saint Luke's Reformed Episcopal Church. The War Psalms. www.stlukesrec.org
Vincent R. J. The Imprecatory Psalms. www.theocentric.com.