Death and life are in the power of the tongue….
—Proverbs 18:21a ESV

And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.
—James 3:6-9 ESV

At a healing service about ten years ago or so, I was called upon by my church to help with prayer. As a prayer team leader, I was charged with making sure we met the prayer needs of the church while directing the trained volunteers who would pray for others after our meetings. That role was an uplifting ministry that I cherished.

The healing service began and all of us were praying with folks who came up front. After a time, the crowd thinned and I found myself alone. Only then did a small man dressed in a suit entirely in white approach me. He was timid, and with an Eastern European lilt he could only say, "Please pray for me."

When I laid my hands on him, I knew immediately that this man did not covet my prayers for a nice day. Asking God to reveal the man's true need, I couldn't avoid a word that kept coming back to me again and again: Curse. CurseSo I prayed that the blood of Christ would sever the power of all curses on this man's life. The instant I spoke this out loud, he began screaming and fell to the ground.

Being a prayer team leader, I swiftly summoned several others to come over and continue praying with me over this man. We prayed for about ten minutes and I witnessed his countenance utterly change from terror to peace. If ever I needed a video camera to record that kind of profound release in a tormented soul, that moment called for it more than almost any other I've witnessed in my life.

Talking with this man afterwards, he told me that back in his native country his mother had crossed the local sorceress, who responded by placing the entire family under a curse. The man's mother, pregnant at the time, later died in childbirth. The girl that was born was left profoundly retarded as a result of problems in delivery. The man's brother soon afterwards went insane and was institutionalized—until the country's asylums were dismantled in the wake of the fall of the Soviet Union. The man's father went blind a few years after his wife died and now rarely spoke.

In my years as a Christian, I've prayed for a lot of people, but there have always been times when people I've prayed for embellish their stories. However, as much as I was beginning to think that this little man standing in front of me now was perhaps adding to his tale, he silenced my doubts by leading me to the back of the church where his blind father, deranged brother, and mentally disabled sister sat as quietly as could be expected, the brother only occasionally muttering something unintelligible.

I was shocked.

I was also called away for another prayer need. Telling the man I wanted to talk with him more, I went back up front, prayed for the new need that had arisen, then immediately walked back to that broken family, discovering they had left quietly in the sanctuary's semi-darkness, only one of them finding release.

Too much "Evil Eye" for you? Not the kind of thing you've ever encountered? Well let me share a more personal story.

I got a call from a friend one night who was truly suffering. He'd come to the decision that he could not be a Christian any longer, and as we talked he confessed that the reason he was abandoning the faith was me.

No Christian ever wants to be the stumbling block for another person's faith, and I was taken aback by the comment, searching through every conversation, every encounter I'd had with this friend for as long as we'd known each other. Nothing I'd said or done to him was coming back to me.

Then my friend confessed that the reason he'd come to this decision was from noting all the rotten things that had happened to me in the years since he'd known me. I won't go into that list here, but my friend recalled every item on that list in excruciating detail, some of which I had never told him, but he must have gotten from other sources. He summed up his comments by saying that he could not reconcile how a Christian like myself, who had given everything up to follow Christ, could possibly go on considering what I'd experienced. If "God" truly existed, what kind of god could he be if he treated his own servants so badly, returning faithfulness with pain? My friend also wondered if I was merely deluded for pressing on in faith with a smile on my face and hope still in my heart. It was for these reasons that he could no longer believe anything in the Christian faith was true. I was the example that proved his deduction.

We continued to talk for hours after. Only later did I learn that our conversation had probably saved his life. But what I didn't know was what was going on in spiritual places because of what he said to me one humid summer evening long ago.

I think it was just today that I came to grips with his pronouncement. In some of my darkest times, what he said to me that night haunted me, and only now do I recognize it for the curse that it was. Only now do I feel like the black power of that comment has been rendered inert in the light of Christ.

How many of us are laboring under a curse someone glibly tossed out a decade or more ago? What words carelessly spoken—or even spoken with intent—have pinned us to the ground or left us flailing?

Many of you reading this are not charismatics; I understand that. But this isn't pew-jumping, bark-like-a-dog charismania, folks. Curses are a dark demonic oppression that gets called into use to destroy, undermine, hamper, and diminish the work of God in our lives. If we do not take curses before Him and let His Strong Right Hand shatter them, they can persist and wreak havoc.

Ask God today to expose curses that have been pronounced over you in your life. Some of you may have had parents that said things to you that have bound you in chains for years. Get those before God. Or you may have said things with a fire on your tongue that has burned people so fiercely that they can't get over it. Pray that out and let God show you who you need to approach in forgiveness. Too many of us speak carelessly and unleash things that can damage many.

Life and Death are in the power of the tongue. Therefore, speak life and not death. Our witness for the Lord depends on it.

11 thoughts on “Curses

  1. Ted Gossard

    Dan, a good post and thought provoking. Good to hear how God used you in that brother’s life.

    I must say that I am skeptical of the modern division of “charismatics” and those who are not- in reference to believers.

    I believe there is a need on the part of so many to be more open to the work of the Spirit. But at the same time I see in many lives works of the Spirit in spite of this non openness.

    The Greek says that if one is in the body of Christ they have the charismata of the Spirit. That is true even of the cessationsists- those who deny gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12.

    Often, it seems to me, the “haves” look down on the “have-nots”. Hardly a spiritual, “Spirit-filled” attitude.

    Though I don’t believe at all, Dan, that you are doing this.

    Good words on our words, Dan. Since James 3 is true (as well as the rest of Scripture) we need to take all of that very seriously. Also words have great potential in God for healing- as we find in some proverbs. Certainly preeminently in Jesus’ words spoken to people in the gospels.

  2. Wow, Dan! What a post!

    Some of the things you have written about your troubles had lead me to wonder if there might be some sort of curse in force but I’m unlikely to have mentioned it because I am still baffled about the whole subject area. Your stories will be chalked up as yet another convincing testimony of the reality of the existence of curses but I always struggle to get much clear scriptural insight on the matter. Most of what I have read that others have written on the subject struck me as pretty wooky.

    Some people seem to want to go into the depths of identifying curses and sniffing them out and from generations back. Again I have actually benefitted hugely from this kind of prayer and found much release from plaguing habits and beliefs but there is still part of me that says, “surely we just need to confess Christ and get filled with the Holy Spirit like they did in the New Testament.”

    Your testimony about the man you prayed for showed me something else, too. It was reminiscient of some of the deliverances that I read about John Wesley being involved in. Where some teach the need to pray and identify the root cause of something BEFORE confronting it in prayer, I hear plenty of accounts where people just pray blessing or general kinds of prayers and get others to come and sort of soak the person until they find relief and God does something. What I mean is that it doesn’t seem to demand any more great expertise, special gifts or skills to break curses than it does to pray any other kind of prayer; but I think many people (like me) avoid the whole thing because they feel they are not “schooled” enough or gifted to do it.

  3. lindaruth

    Our pastor is preaching a series on the 10 Commandments — Sunday was Number 6 — thou shalt not murder. But besides the physical act of murder, the sermon focused on the crimes we commit against each other with our words. Your testimony is a powerful illustration of that very principle.
    I know that God is at work in your life and his blessing is on you.

  4. Ted,

    I brought up the charismatic thing simply because charismatics talk about this issue of curses a lot, while few non-charismatics do. If you’re not familiar with charismatic circles, talking about curses may seem a little “out there,” if you know what I mean. I was not trying to make Christian “class” distinctions, but note that certain parts of the Christian community just may not be familiar with this issue of curses or find it all very strange.

  5. Seymour,

    While writing this post on curses, I checked in e-Sword and pulled up 175 matches on the words curse, curses, and cursed. A quick scan of those verses yields a few general ideas:

    1. Vulgarity employed against another.
    2. A pronouncement of a formal curse against a person, nation, or thing (like when Jesus curses the fig tree.)
    3. God’s pronouncement of opposition against a person or nation.
    4. A natural outcome of committing sinful acts.

    I’m discussing #2 in my post, but I think we would all do well to do a study on blessing and cursing. Many topics in the Bible have far fewer than 175 references, but we give them more attention. Considering how powerful curses are, we’ve seriously underestimated the attention they deserve.

    As for the experience with the man I prayed for, I started praying for him out loud by giving thanks for his coming forward and praying a general blessing over him. But all the while I was praying with my mind that God would show me why he came forward. In response to that inner prayer, the word “curse” kept relentlessly looping through my thoughts. I knew that idea was not coming from me since that’s not an issue I routinely pray for, but the second I spoke that out loud, all hell broke loose—literally.

    The other thing that struck me about this encounter was that curses can cover both schools of thought. Charismatics will tend to look at the spiritual power behind a curse, while non-charismatics will tend to see it in the light of oppressive self-talk or self-fulfilling prophecy. Either way, the curse does something. With a curse, the outcome is the same no matter what mechanism you believe. That man’s father was blind. Some will believe that a demonic source was responsible, while others will believe that because he so believed he was truly cursed—and repeated that idea to himself over and over—he became what he thought he was. I can agree with both lines of thinking on this issue. Today, when I pray against curses on people’s lives, I employ both lines of reasoning.

  6. Lindaruth,

    I’ve seen more than one person in my life “murdered” by what someone has said to them. Below is a perfect example of that in Scripture:

    “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.”
    —Matthew 5:21-22 ESV

  7. Gaddabout

    I’m not quite sure if this counts as a curse, but I vividly remember deconstructing the immorality of single motherhood out of wedlock during a college/career class once. I went political on the issue. Sitting across from me was a young single woman who had just learned she was pregnant.

    I have a gift for this. In freshman English I went on a political tirade against the homosexual community. It was filled with hateful words. My English professor never let on he was ill. He died from the complications of AIDS 7 months later. He never knew the Lord. He had lived the double life of married man and gay man.

  8. Ronni

    OMG Dan. Nail on head. I’m sitting here in tears. The past few weeks I’ve been sitting here feeling like I’ve had these bungee cords wrapped around me… and as I walk forward, I get more and more resistance.. even in my church, even when everything I do is right and I couldn’t place it… and then you said to ask God to show you the curses… and the words that were spoken over me years ago rang in my ears… things I thought I’d forgotten, and they were curses… put over me as a child! Over and over again those words were said bitterly like a knife being haphazardly tossed in my direction… WOW.

    I swear, I owe you lunch more than a few times now. I have some knee time to do… thanks man. You are going through it but you ARE hearing God. Thats what matters in times like these. No matter what we are going through… He is still there!


  9. Matt,

    I knew a pastor who had a hard time with babies crying during his messages. One Sunday he said something that could have been construed in a number of negative ways to a woman with a crying infant. She got up and left. Only later did I learn that this was her first time ever in a church and that she told the person who had invited her that she would never come back.

    While the pastor’s comment was not a curse, it still had the same effect as one in the life of that woman. Demonic? Probably not, but still. Not every curse has that kind of component and yet it can be just as damaging.

  10. TonyP.

    Hard to believe that you are speaking to me from almost five years ago, Dan. Excellent testimony to the work of the Spirit.

    I am working my way forward through your posts, eventually I will be caught up. I am tracking well with you so far. 😉

    Grace and peace

    And for some reason I am burdened to pray for you and yours now. So I will.


    Lay Your healing and comforting hands upon Dan and his family.


    Remind them of Your grace and love for them.


    Fill them to overflowing with Your power.

    May You grant them the peace of Your Presence. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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