When to Ask God to Strike

In his coverage of the Third Commandment, Ursinus applies the right or wrong usage of God's name to prayer. This leads him to a brief discussion of whether, and if so when, we may justifiably use imprecatory prayer like we see in the Psalms. He provides a cautious "yes" and lists a few conditions for appropriate imprecation:

  1. If we desire evil things to come upon those upon whom God denounces them, viz., his enemies.
  2. If it is done on account of God, without any private hatred, or desire of revenge.
  3. If we ask it upon the condition that these things come upon them only in case they remain incorrigible.
  4. If we so desire these things, as not to rejoice in their destruction, but merely to desire that the divine glory be vindicated, and the church delivered.

Zacharias Ursinus, Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism