Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Imprecatory prayers, Woman leading co-ed small group, LifeWay litmus test…)

Welcome to another “potpourri” edition of The Mailbag, where I give short(er) answers to several questions rather than a long answer to one question.

I like to take the opportunity in these potpourri editions to let new readers know about my comments/e-mail/messages policy. I’m not able to respond individually to most e-mails and messages, so here are some helpful hints for getting your questions answered more quickly. Remember, the search bar (at the very bottom of each page) can be a helpful tool!

Or maybe I answered your question already? Check out my article The Mailbag: Top 10 FAQs to see if your question has been answered and to get some helpful resources.


I tried subscribing to your blog using the email subscription box, but I wasn’t able to. Here’s my email address. Can you do it for me?

First of all, thank you so much to all of you who subscribe (or are trying to) to the blog via email. I really appreciate it.

I’ve received this question from two or three of y’all over the past couple of weeks, so I reached out to WordPress (my blog host) just to make sure there wasn’t anything technologically wrong. They checked things on their end and said everything seemed to be working fine, and indicated that a number of people had been successful in subscribing to the blog via email in recent days. So, after chatting with the customer service guy for a few minutes here are some suggestions we came up with if you’re having trouble subscribing via email:

  • Unfortunately, I cannot subscribe to the blog for you. You have to do it yourself, so sending me your email address and asking me to subscribe for you won’t work.
  • Try using a different device. For example, if you’re trying to subscribe on your phone, switch to your computer, or try using a friend’s phone.
  • Try clearing your browser cache
  • Make sure you’re typing in your email address correctly- no typos – and into the correct box (the one that says “enter your email address”).
  • If all else fails, ask a friend who’s there with you to help.
  • If nothing works, you can always follow me on social media. I post my blog articles on my social media accounts every day.

Is it OK for Christians to pray imprecatory prayers against evil people?

I’m going to say “yes,” but with some New Testament provisos:

Examine your heart first. What is motivating you to want to pray an imprecatory prayer against this person? Do you hate her? Want revenge? Are you jealous of her? If the motive of your heart is ungodly, you need to deal with that first. You should not enter into any sort of prayer about anything if your motives are sinful (unless, of course, you’re praying that God will change your motives!)

Just as God’s greatest desire for you was for you to repent and be forgiven in Christ, that should be your greatest desire for others. Do you desire, from the heart, that God would save this person, or do you find yourself hoping God will hurt her or send her to Hell? Again, examine the motives of your heart.

It’s never wrong to ask God to stop someone from sinning or to protect you or others from that person’s sin. (Which is not the same as an imprecatory prayer).

Is the person you want to pray the imprecatory prayer against someone you know personally? If so, a better prayer would be to ask God to help you love her, forgive her, and give you opportunities to be a godly influence on her.

Is the person you want to pray the imprecatory prayer against someone you don’t know and have virtually no access to such as a well known false teacher or an evil governmental leader? This is probably the best fit for praying what we would think of as an imprecatory prayer. When I pray for false teachers, here’s what that prayer generally sounds like:

Dear Lord- I pray for Teacher X. Would you please pour out your grace and mercy on her, give her the gift of repentance, and graciously save her? However, You know all things, and you know whether or not she will be saved. If You know she will not bow the knee to Christ, I am asking You to please remove her from all positions and relationships of influence she has. Even though I know that You may be using her as an instrument of judgment against those who want their itching ears scratched, I am asking you to show mercy – to her, to them, and to the visible church – by sitting her down and shutting her up. But whatever You decide, I trust You.

Some people would probably say that’s not really an imprecatory prayer, and I might agree with them, but, to me, that’s what an imprecatory prayer sounds like when run through a New Testament filter.


We have a co-ed small group in our home which my husband leads, however due to work, sometimes he is gone. There isn’t another person who feels comfortable enough to lead so I usually just keep us on track by getting us through our questions which are based on Sunday’s sermon. So, does this mean that when my husband is gone, we should cancel our Small Group?

Though it is very servant-hearted and loving toward your husband and church for you to be willing, you should not be leading the group when your husband is gone. There would be nothing wrong with reading aloud some questions you’ve been provided if that’s all it was, but I would assume the leader has to at least provide some biblical guidance. What if someone answers a question with false doctrine that needs to be biblically corrected? What if no one can answer the question and answering it yourself requires you to teach Scripture to the group? That’s going to put you in the position of possibly violating Scripture and/or your conscience by teaching the Bible to a mixed group. That’s not fair to you or to the group.

Here are some things I would suggest:

  • If your husband can change his work schedule around or change the date or time of the small group meeting so he doesn’t have to be absent (at all or as much), that would be helpful.
  • Your husband should talk things over with your pastor and ask him for suggestions of other men (outside the group) who can lead when he has to be gone.
  • I’m sorry, but there’s no other way to say this (and please understand, this is not directed at you, personally, but a general statement about so many churches these days). The men in your group need to man up. I’m sorry they feel uncomfortable, but that has never been a biblical excuse for men failing to do what God has called them to do – lead. Barak felt uncomfortable doing what God had called him to do, and look how that turned out. Godly men manage to find a way to do things that make them uncomfortable all the time out of obedience to Christ. Your husband can mentor them, the pastor can train them, whatever. They all need to get together, figure it out, and step up. This shouldn’t be something you even need to worry about. It’s not your burden to carry, it’s theirs.

    And besides that, you’re uncomfortable too, aren’t you? At least uncomfortable enough to write and ask me whether or not you should be doing this or if the meeting should be canceled. So you – a woman – feel uncomfortable about doing something you shouldn’t be doing but you have to do it anyway, but these men feel uncomfortable about doing something they should be doing – leading – and they don’t have to do it because they feel uncomfortable? Does that sound biblical? Or even fair?

Perhaps it’s time for evangelical pastors and elders to start giving some thought to what is going on in the culture of their churches that makes men comfortable slacking off and shoving their God-given responsibilities off onto the shoulders of women.

So no, it shouldn’t come down to you leading or canceling the meeting all together. The best and healthiest thing that could happen here is for the men to step up and lead.

Additional Resources:

Adam 3.0: Meanwhile, Back in the Garden, It’s Deja Vu All Over Again

The Mailbag: I Have to Preach Because No Man Will Step Up


I’ve discovered your podcast and started listening to the one on how to study the Bible. You speak of LifeWay in it. Am I to avoid ANY and all books and authors they sell/endorse on their website? Like Mr. X Preacher and Mr. Y Author? I have a library full of books listed on LifeWay!

Thank you so much for listening in to A Word Fitly Spoken!

I’m sorry, but I think you may have misunderstood what I said on our How to Study the Bible – And How Not To! episode.

We started off the episode by discussing how not to study the Bible, and one of our first points was that you should not use “Bible” studies authored by false teachers. I gave a list of some of the best selling women’s “Bible” study authors to avoid (Beth Moore, Lysa TerKeurst, Priscilla Shirer, Christine Caine, etc.), and then I followed that up by saying this:

And I’m going to add one more. This is actually the first time I’m publicly saying this, and as a Southern Baptist, it pains me to say it, but if you need a quick way to rule someone out without doing hours of research on an author you’re not familiar with, I would avoid any author or conference speaker promoted by LifeWay Women – that’s the women’s division of LifeWay.

Now hear me, I’m not saying that every woman in LifeWay Women’s stable of women’s Bible study authors is necessarily unbiblical or a false teacher, but the majority of them are – certainly enough that I feel comfortable saying you could use their endorsement as a litmus test of who to avoid.

I was specifically talking about authors and conference speakers endorsed and promoted by LifeWay Women (the women’s division of LifeWay). I wasn’t talking about LifeWay in general, and I wasn’t saying that every single author you can find in LifeWay’s online store is a false teacher.

What I was trying to get across is this: Say you’ve heard of a new women’s Bible study by Jane Doe. You’ve never heard of her and don’t know anything about her, but you’ve heard other women raving about her. You’re wondering, “Is Jane Doe doctrinally sound?”.

I’m saying if you go to the LifeWay Women website and you see Jane’s picture plastered all over the place as their latest and greatest author and conference speaker, she’s probably not doctrinally sound, and if you don’t have time to read the book and compare all of her teachings to Scripture, you can take their endorsement of her as a signal that you should probably avoid her.

A brief note on the two particular men you mentioned. I would not recommend either of them – not because their materials are sold by LifeWay, but because there are theological issues with both of them. If you want to listen to or read some godly pastors and authors who rightly handle Scripture and will help you grow properly in Christ, please check out the Recommended Bible Teachers tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page. (If you need the list narrowed down a little, I would recommend starting with John MacArthur, Steve Lawson, Gabriel Hughes, or Josh Buice).


I’m trying to remember the name of a recent release book that warns of singing the Hillsong/Bethel songs in church but I’m drawing a blank! Can you help me? I thought Costi Hinn wrote it but he just helped promote it maybe?

I personally haven’t read any recent books that I recall mentioning this (lots of blog articles, videos, podcasts, etc., but not books).

It is possible that Costi mentioned this in one or both of his books, Defining Deception or God, Greed, and the Prosperity Gospel (both of which I would highly recommend). I’ve read both, but it’s been a couple of years, so I don’t remember whether or not he specifically mentioned churches using Hillsong, Bethel, etc., music in either of them. I know he has mentioned it several times on his blog and podcast.

The only other book that keeps coming to mind is Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel by Kate Bowler. It’s not really recent, and I only read part of it when it first came out (2013), so I don’t know if she deals with that subject or not. But it keeps coming to mind, so I thought I’d mention it. (And if nothing else, it’s a very good reference book.)

Readers, any ideas which book (not online articles, podcasts, videos, etc. – BOOK) this sister might be thinking about?
Comment below.


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

3 thoughts on “The Mailbag: Potpourri (Imprecatory prayers, Woman leading co-ed small group, LifeWay litmus test…)”

    1. I no longer recommend TGC (including their conferences). They have been going in the woke / social justice direction for several years. The only person connected with TGC (that I know of) that I would recommend is Kevin DeYoung, and it escapes me why he continues to associate with them.

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