(Rev. 6:9-11) Is it Christian to pray for vengeance?

CLAIM: Both Jesus (Lk. 23:34) and Stephen (Acts 7:60) prayed that their persecutors would be forgiven—not judged. Jesus himself taught, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Mt. 5:44). How then could these believers pray for judgment, rather than forgiveness for their enemies?

RESPONSE: There are a few differences of which we should be aware in interpreting this passage. First, these believers are praying these things from heaven—not from Earth. Our perspective in heaven on God’s judgment will be different—especially when our sin nature is removed from us. This could be why God doesn’t command us to pray for this now, but later. Second, the focus of the prayer is on the timing of God’s judgment. We agree with Warren Weirsbe when he writes, “The great question, however, was not whether their enemies would be judged, but when. ‘How long, O Lord?’ has been the cry of God’s suffering people throughout the ages (see Pss. 74:9–10; 79:5; 94:3–4; also Hab. 1:2). The saints in heaven know that God will eventually judge sin and establish righteousness in the earth, but they do not know God’s exact schedule. It is not personal revenge that they seek, but vindication of God’s holiness and the establishment of God’s justice. Every believer today who sincerely prays, ‘Thy kingdom come!’ is echoing their petition.”[1] For more on this subject, see our earlier article, “What about the ‘Cursings” in the Psalms?”

[1] Wiersbe, Warren. The Bible exposition commentary. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books. 1996. Rev. 6:9-11.