Liz Cooledge Jenkins is a writer, preacher, and former college campus minister with an M.Div. from Fuller Theological Seminary. She lives in the Seattle area and blogs at

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Praying the Imprecatory Psalms Is an Act of Nonviolence

by Liz Cooledge Jenkins 03-29-2022

Blue broken plate on a blue background. Photo credit: Natalia Kokhanova / Alamy. Image via Reuters.

As Hebrew Bible scholar Walter Brueggemann has reflected, the imprecatory psalms put words to our thirst for vengeance. In praying these psalms, we process our rage and give our violent impulses over to God. “O God, break the teeth in their mouths,” one psalmist prays; “let them be like the snail that dissolves into slime” (Psalm 58:6, 8). I’m all for this kind of prayer. I’m all for praying the entire range of the psalms — even the ones that sometimes make us uncomfortable or aren’t necessarily welcome in church. And if there is any occasion for an imprecatory psalm, certainly Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in all of its brutality and sheer horror, is one of those occasions.