Do Christians have permission to pray imprecatory prayers?
I'm sure slow to.
I'm thinking of 1 John, where it says, "There is a sin that is unto death, I do not say that you should pray for that sin," meaning, "If you can discern in somebody that they have sinned in such a way that they are beyond repentance, don't pray for that sin. Don't pray for their forgiveness."
Now I have never known anybody of whom I could say, "They are so beyond repentance that I will not pray for them." I had a grandmother who I thought probably was in that condition, but I could never bring myself to not pray for her conversion.
But that's different from actually praying for their damnation. And the reason I'm hesitant here—and people wonder "Why are you hesitant? Just say no!"—is because I think I can imagine circumstances where it might be fitting.
Suppose the Gestapo or some contemporary form of it is sweeping through your neighborhood and, in the most brutal way, wiping people out. Killing people. I think you would pray, "God, stop them! Do whatever you have to do to stop them!" Or, when they're in prison, "God, this was so wrong!"
So I want to say that there may be a time when you're calling God's judgment on somebody.
But here's where I'm probably going to end up: Jesus said, "Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you. Bless those who abuse you." So I don't think that today, without being scripture-writers like the psalmist, we should pray for people's damnation. We should bless people, pray for their conversion, or not pray for them if God makes it clear they're not going to be saved.