For the last month I’ve been wrestling with the question of how to pray about the situation in Ukraine. It’s easy to toss out generic prayers like, “Lord help the people displaced by the war,” and “Please send people to help.” And, of course, “God, please overrule this evil and bring good from it. Use your people to be the hands and feet of Jesus.”
Those are all valid prayers, but in the face of the horror and brutality we are witnessing, they somehow felt hollow.
I prayed that God would stop Russia. That he would bring Putin down. That he would do something to turn the situation around, but I ran out of words.
Then I remembered the imprecatory psalms.*
We’re uncomfortable with the imprecatory psalms because they appear to be at odds with the “love your enemies” ethic of Jesus. But perhaps for the first time I understood that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is the kind of situation they were written for.
Depending on who you ask, there are 14-20+ imprecatory psalms in the Bible. And I’m not going to cover them here. One that has spoken to me and has helped form my prayer language for Ukraine is Psalm 10. I’m including a few verses below. You might find them helpful.
“But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted;
you consider their grief and take it in hand.
The victims commit themselves to you;
you are the helper of the fatherless.
Break the arm of the wicked man;
call the evildoer to account for his wickedness
that would not otherwise be found out” (Psalm 10:14-15 NIV).
*Imprecatory psalms are psalms where the writer calls down God’s judgment on his enemies