Praying for evil?

Salvete, omnes!

Is it proper to pray for evil? When I say “evil”, I mean “bad things happening”.

Specifically, I wonder, if someone is sinning and especially knowingly so, is it appropriate to pray for evil to come upon their lives either as a punishment or as a warning for them to turn away from that evil, especially if speaking to them about it hasn’t worked.

Would this be any different when it comes to praying for a non-Christian person?

Or, rather, should we ultimately leave when to punish/warn up to God and, instead, actually pray fro good to come into a person’s life always, despite their sin? After all, it seems that, in the Scriptures, God very often does good even to the most evil of people because of His incredible Love for them.

Indeed, I cannot think of any examples of saints (big and little s) praying for evil to come on a person because of their sin, though maybe I’m just missing something. Rather, I see more examples of saints interceding for God’s Mercy when He was originally going to “stick it to them” with the result that He often, if not always, relented. I don’t know if I recall any situation where the situation was the other way around, where a person doing evil was living a good life and a saint prayed that he might suffer evil in his life for punishment and/or reward.

I am rarely if ever inclined myself to pray for evil to come into someone’s life, even for the purpose of punishment/correction. I am far more likely to pray, still, for God’s Goodness in blessing to come upon them, sinfl as they may be, again, thinking of the verses that seem to indicate that He even blesses the worst of men and considering that I don’t see many examples of doing the opposite. Am I misguided in this method of praying? Is it ever appropriate, and, indeed, preferred or even required, that I should pray for evil to come on a person rather than good, particularly if they are obstinately sinning?

Gratias plurimas.

I pray for sinners (including myself) to repent, and for God’s mercy.

I do not pray for evil to befall people. God does not cause evil. He may permit it, but he is not an agent of evil. And I’d rather not talk to the entity who is.

Is it, indeed, sound Catholic theology that God can never absolutely cause evil (again, “evil”, in the sense of negative things happening to a person in their lives), even if it is for the ultimate good of the inddividual to whom it is caused?

What of all those passages that speak quite clearly of God being the instrument of evil in such cases?

Also, what if, if we didn’t pray for evil to befall a person, particularly for correction, they might otherwise not be corrected? Is it lawful then?

You write, “what of all those passages…”

–Which ones? Misty, you do this all the time, namely, say the Bible says something without saying where. What verses are you referring to?


I omitted the most important part: NO, it is never acceptable to pray for evil to occur, ever.

Which passages?

Evil is antithetical to what God is. God is good.

God knows what He is doing, we do not always understand His ways. We need to trust Him.

When someone needs prayers who has turned from the path to the Lord, then it is good to pray for the grace of repentance for them, and that they receive His mercy with joy.

The Lord knows what to permit in our lives that can help us on the way to salvation.

Everyone keeps asking what passages I am thinking of. Again, I cite, as one instance, the issue of the confusion of tongues at Babel:

There, it is directly stated by God, “Let Us go down and confuse their languages…” Here, it would seem, God directly says that He is responsible fro the creation of languages, not the devil.

So, then, do we still attribute the creation of languages to the devil, despite the fact that it is attributed to God Himself in Sacred Scripture?

(Again, I am assuming that the passage is a literal rendering of what happened at Babel.)

And, again, if the devil created languages, on a bit of a side note, is it wrong to be thankful for the beauty and diversity of languages to God, if it was ultimately the devil that created them?

After all, it could be argued that the difference of languages was, in fact, an evil, as it was not originally the way it was supposed to be and it prohibits the communication between peoples.

So, was it God or the devil that divided our languages? And, if it was the latter, what of us enjoying them so much? Is enjoying them like this actually completely the wrong attitude?

I have no idea why you would think at all that the creation of different languages constitutes an evil. :shrug:

Time to stop assuming and get a genuine Catholic Scripture study. Like the Bible Timeline or Symbolon.

Praying for vengeance, or anything of this sort, is engaging in the black arts. We are not even to hate someone. Only the Lord / God is able to exact any sort of “punishment,” outside what our laws address.

As Christians, we are called on to pray for our enemies in the hope that they find salvation, and turn away from sin.

I urge you in the strongest terms possible, to abandon this strain of thought, permanently.

If evil, most generally, is defined as a lack of good (which I thought the Church defined it is), then, by the division of languages, that good that would have resulted from the presence of a single language (i.e., the ability for all to communicate with each other), was taken away in that division. So, one might argue, the confusion of languages, represents an evil.

I think we are confusing here the notion of moral evil with evil (as I am understanding it here) in the sense of a general lack of good. You can have something that is morally evil and, of course, God cannot do this, and you can have something evil in the sense of lacking good (e.g., even temporal, but not in and of itself, moral good). I am speaking here of evil in a purely temporal (and not a purely moral) sense.

I would argue that the confusion of languages represents a temporal evil in the sense that it creates a lack of full communication between peoples – originally, befroe the confusion, a temporal good.

What I am wondering here, then, is whether a) we can pray for temporal goods to be taken away if that alone would lead to conversion and b0 whether God can indeed do/cause temporal evil in order to facilitate a higher good.

You are way, way, WAY overthinking this, as I respectfully postulate you overthink lots of things. “Temporal good” vs. “moral evil,” as opposed to just plain garden variety evil? Huh?
Christianity is a simple religion for all people: Love God, and love one another as yourself. These concepts like “temporal evil” are meaningless; they are the creation of linguists who want to make life into a debating society.

Evil isn’t the absence of good, and if you think it is, you need to explain exactly why that is so (preferably in less than 2 sentences). There is also simply moral neutrality.

Everyone is telling you: NO, we cannot pray for evil. I don’t know why that concept is so hard, or why you disagree.

It’s not like that’s a gap that can’t be breeched; people can always learn languages. I would also care to point out that with the Tower of Babel, God did not give people different languages out of spite, but because humans were trying to make a bridge from Earth to the Heavens by force. So, in response to your questions:

a. Leave the conversion to God. Do not dictate to Him how to cause it. Only He alone knows how to turn someone to Him.

b. God is incapable of evil. Period. Temporal (though I’m not entirely sure what you mean by it) or moral. I would not say evil is an absence of good; good existed before evil existed, and God draws good from evil (CCC 312). Rather, in my opinion, evil in of itself is the total and utter absence of love. Something that no mortal, no human can make good except God because it is so debased and corrupting.

Matthew 5:44!

OK, so, several people here have disagreed with me that evil is the absence of good (at least insofar as what I call “temporal” evil). Perhaps we should say that temporal evil is the absence of temporal good?

Regardless, those whow ould disagree with me here, I would submit, at least, unless memory fails me, are also disagreeing with the great Angelic Doctor of the Church. Was it not Aquinas himself who posited this definition of evil? If so, I would be very careful before I blew it off as an inaccurate definition…

Agreed that we should never pray for moral evil to come to a person. I suppose what I mean here is that we should never pray for evil to come to someone out of sinful hatred for a person.

Still, what our main topic here (along with a few side trips) has been is whether we should pray for physical (temporal/worldly) evil to come to a person if that is what it will (might?) take for them to convert from some aspect of sin.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit