Because I have readers of many religions (or none at all), I always hesitate before posting anything too religious or too Christian, but I’m making an exception here because I’ve noticed some ACONs believe it’s sinful to pray for narcissists. But I don’t think that’s true and I always pray for mine.
Whenever anyone tells me I’m wrong to pray for the souls of narcissists, I just use the example of the Apostle Paul. Saul was much worse than just a sinner; the Bible describes a man who seemed to be a high-spectrum, unrepentant malignant narcissist.
Following is an article from CBN.com called “How Saul Became the Apostle Paul.” It’s the fascinating story of a man–an arrogant, narcissistic, murderous Pharisee, who hated Jesus and his followers–whose heart was changed. If someone as malignantly narcissistic, even sociopathic, as Saul/Paul was, could change, why not others too? We don’t know what God’s intentions are or whose heart he may be working on. No, chances are your narcissist won’t change and you shouldn’t wait around for them to do so or try to “fix” them, but I don’t see any harm in praying for them if you’re so inclined. We are not the judge and jury; only God is.
I still see narcissism and arrogance in Paul even after his miraculous conversion–I have to admit I never cared much for Paul’s personality, which I find abrasive. After all, he was still human and still a sinner. But at least he wasn’t harming others anymore, and had renounced his former life as a Pharisee and devoted himself to spreading the word of God.
How Saul Became The Apostle Paul
By Craig Von Busick, for CBN.com
“The best and the brightest.” It was a phrase used by some journalist to describe the administration of President John F. Kennedy. The same phrase could have been used to describe Saul of Tarsus; a child of the best upbringing; a student of the vaunted teacher, Gamaliel; a Roman citizen; trained in the best Jewish schools; groomed, perhaps, to even become chief priest.
And this pious man was bent on the destruction of the believers in Jesus.
In order to understand Saul of Tarsus it is important that we put him into historical context. Only a few short years had passed from the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus when a self-righteous religious zealot assisted in the systematic murder of one of Christianity’s earliest messengers, a godly man named Stephen. Luke punctuates Saul’s involvement in this murder with the chilling comment:
“Now Saul was consenting to his death.” (Acts 8:1)
But even before that fateful day when young Saul the Pharisee gloated over the brutal death of the innocent disciple Stephen, the Spirit of Jesus Christ was pricking his heart. God had designs for this bright young man, and in His sovereignty He was prepared to knock Saul off His high horse.
There can be little doubt that Saul was familiar with the Galilean man who was known as Jesus. Though Saul may have been consumed by his study of the Torah and Talmud – the Jewish holy books, there was talk of this back woods preacher and the stir He was creating throughout Israel. Numerous reports were made of so-called messiahs emerging from every corner of the land, so Saul and his classmates undoubtedly debated the authenticity of the reports of Jesus’ miracles.
He may have been one of the unnamed lawyers who confronted Jesus with questions in the Gospel accounts? Saul may have gathered with the other scribes and Pharisees at the river Jordan when John the Baptist declared, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Was he outraged to learn that Jesus had cleared the moneychangers and vendors of religious trinkets from the temple while snapping a whip?
It is conceivable that Saul was one of the pious Pharisees trying to console a weeping Mary and Martha at the death of their brother Lazarus. Whether he was physically present when Jesus raised the 3-day dead Lazarus from his rotting rest, it is sure that Saul heard of and pondered this indisputable miracle. This shocking development created such a sensation that the panicked religious leaders ramped up their efforts to arrest and execute the backwater mystic before he brought down the wrath of Rome on their heads.
Saul could have been in attendance at the infamous midnight trial of Jesus before the Sanhedrin. Perhaps he was outside in the courtyard of Caiaphas warming himself next to the fire. Maybe he heard the servant girl accusing a gruff-looking Galilean of being a follower of this Jesus. He may have been amused at the unrefined manner in which this fisherman cursed and raved the third time he was accused.
Though he approved of the barbarous stoning of Stephen, it is entirely possible that Saul’s heart was pricked when he heard him say, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.”
We don’t know how long the Lord was at work in the heart of Saul, but we know the Holy Spirit was goading him – and Saul was kicking back hard, primarily against the disciples of Jesus. After the death of Stephen, Saul was fanatical about destroying this new sect. Saul launched a holy war against the Church, scattering the believers. He made havoc, entering homes, sending many to prison – even putting some to death. He was beginning to attain the notoriety that he had always craved. If he was going to rise to the level of prestige and power that he believed was his destiny, he would have to prove himself worthy.
When word came that these followers of Jesus had spread into Syria, Saul requested permission to go to Damascus. With great delight the High Priest granted him letters to take to the synagogues of Syria.
As Saul and his colleagues came near Damascus, suddenly they were flooded with glorious light. It was like looking into the sun from only a yard away. Saul fell to the ground and suddenly a voice emanated from within the light. The voice was both terrifying and soothing at the same time. “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”
Was this an angel? Or worse, could it be a messenger from Satan, trying to distract him from his holy quest? No, if it were the devil he wouldn’t feel this mix of peace and awe. Humbly Saul inquired, “Who are you, Lord?”
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.”
No. It couldn’t be Jesus, the carpenter from Nazareth, the backwoods preacher, the so-called messiah who was put to death by Pontius Pilate? If this was Jesus, that would mean that nearly every great leader in Israel was wrong … so very wrong. How could they have misjudged him? Unless those confusing passages of Scripture concerning a suffering savior could somehow speak of the Messiah?
Saul began to tremble.
How could he have been so wrong? But then he remembered watching the life ebbing from Stephen, and hearing those haunting words, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
This was the same Jesus that Stephen saw as he peered into heaven. This is the same Jesus that gave strength to so many of Saul’s victims. Saul began shaking uncontrollably. No longer able to bear the intensity of the light, he closed his eyes as tightly as he could.
“This must be the One – the glorious Messiah, promised from ages past.” Saul slowly lifted his head and asked, “Lord, what do you want me to do?”
Jesus replied, “Arise and go into the city…”
Saul obeyed, and in the blindness that resulted from the intense light, he was led into the city. There he was met by a disciple named Ananias, who was sent by Jesus to prophesy, “he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles….” (Acts 9:15, NKJV)
Years later, in obedience to this heavenly vision, and living out his own teaching – “I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some.” (1 Cor. 9:22b, NLT) – this former Pharisee so embraced his calling to minister the Gospel to the Gentiles that he forsook his Jewish name, Saul, and forever adopted the Greek name for which he is remembered … Paul.
I think you pray for those afflicted by things that can do harm to themselves and others. Everyone deserves prayer, no matter what.
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This is so inspiring, thank you for sharing it and for holding the hope that all people can change. The thought that none of us are out of the reach of God regardless of the label gives hope. Paul didn’t go to fellow Pharisees but to a people group profoundly rejected by them as a primary ministry, clearly the arrogance as a way of life was broken. What always struck me in that conversion scene in which Paul is knocked to the ground off his donkey were the words of Christ saying among other things “it is hard for you Paul” Christ’s chief persecutor, receives compassion “its hard on you”… mind blowing. Thus, when those words of Jesus say “pray for your enemies, pray for those that persecute you, bless those that use you” He is asking His followers to die to the natural inclination of revenge in order to express love.
He demonstrates those words in His treatment of Saul. I think it is a miracle of grace to be able to pray for narcissists and evidence of God at work in us.
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Good points you made here to add to my argument. 🙂 Thank you.
It’s never wrong to pray anyone, as far as I know 🙂
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I’ve heard some people argue that narcissists have “seared souls” and are already destined for hell. They use Bible verses to back up their claims. But these beliefs are part of predestination, a teaching of Calvinism–a teaching that I do not agree with (and that many of the fundamentalist religions are based on). There are just as many (if not more) Bible verses that tell us not to judge others, and to pray for those who persecute us. Of course if you choose not to pray for them, I guess that’s alright too, but don’t judge others who do want to pray for them. Only God can do that.
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“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” A good verse if you feel a narcissist is effecting you. “Also love your neighbour as yourself” Everyone’s our neighbour. People say a lot of things thinking they know, that they’re an expert. I am a bit familiar with predestination, I had a friend who was Anglican and they believed that. But fortunately, I was on the otherside of the reformation with Luther. My family is Lutherans. We do not believe in predestination. And since “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” everyone equally whatever their affliction requires prayer. Also, belief in Jesus and his death and resurrection, saves anyone and everyone who has faith. No matter who they are.
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GREAT article! Praying for malignant narcissists in your life is the best therapy. Prayer is powerful and it does help them, but it mostly helps you. Every time one enters my mind, I pray for them. I honestly wonder if we need to be asking God to exorcise the demon(s) and any spirits of ill will from them? I read “the people of the lie” and it made me think of that possibility, just not as severe a possession as we see in movies. Praying for them helps you keep in perspective how much you are blessed by not having this affliction.
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It does what you said, and also by seeing them as damaged (rather than evil) souls, it makes them seem less threatening. Being able to see them this way is empowering to me. Anger has its place, but hatred has no purpose, because all that does is destroy your own soul.
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I totally pray for my narcissists daily! I pray in a balanced way for them. I do want God to expose their lies so people don’t believe them about me and their other victims and to expose any evil setups they plan and or do against their victims but I never pray for God to punish them, just to change them. I still worry about them and would like to buy my mom a home—the way Tyler Perry did for his abusive dad; his dad didn’t thank him for the house and is still abusive and he has no desire to kick it with his dad but he gladly bought him a home and I get that so much! I still worry about them and cry for them even as I am pissed as hell with their evil and the horrible damage they have caused and are still causing their family, loved ones and friends. I do believe many narcissists will go to Heaven simply because I do believe if you ask Jesus into your soul, done deal but they will have consequences even though saved. I still miss my mom and sister and I actually cry about them and not being able to share life with them daily. I am in deep, deep mourning as I grieve their deaths currently in my life. I have no doubts God will let me know if they change and I can share life with them. He had told me in the past to let them go but I forgot about Him telling me that because I didn’t want to hear that and then with the reconnecting I now realize why He told me He would like to tell me the place I was looking for an earthly mom and sister was a place He could give me that but that He couldn’t tell me that because they weren’t a mom and sister to give to me. Now I get it. So, I see my narcissists as choosing evil and being evil but I will never stop hoping that one day they will change. But, as long as they keep opening the door to the enemy choosing evil they resemble nothing of God, nothing. It can’t be both ways but I do believe they are still saved and I would go insane if I didn’t believe I could share heaven with them some day. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful hope because I cling to it for my narcissists and tell my daughter to keep an open mind to God about her dad, my ex, because if God sees that he changes it would be a loss for her not to start sharing life again with he earthly dad.
I think many of us still care for and love the narcissists who were abusive to us. It’s understandable if you don’t too, but there are deep roots that are complex–it’s not easy to just write them off as unredeemable and leave it at that. If we still care for them, of course we want to see them change and grow spiritually. I think God knows this too. But you have to be realistic and realize the likelihood of them ever changing is small at best. Also, I think there has to be a certain willingness on the part of the narcissist to submit their will at some point, like Paul finally did. I don’t believe anyone is hopeless and no one is predestined for hell (I even have doubts that hell is an actual place anyway–but that was another post). Predestination is such a cruel, cold doctrine. Any God who would do that to someone is worse than a narcissist and no less evil than the devil himself. So I don’t believe in it. I agree with you that even some narcissists will go to heaven if there is a sincere desire to change their ways.
I enjoy Tyler Perry movies. I didn’t know his dad was abusive. That was nice of him to buy him a house–too bad his dad didn’t stop the abuse.
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Yes, because Jesus died for narcissists too… I just have no doubts I will share Heaven with them but I do wonder how they can think there aren’t any consequences for hurting people willingly. When you look at the 7 things God hates to me it is describing a narcissist so I know He takes it seriously but He shed His blood for them too. I have a lot of rage for my narcissists so I use poetry and art to cope with it but at the same time if I thought they were suffering other than being exposed for their evil ways it would kill me because I also still love them, even my dead narcissistic molesting father. I hadn’t seen him in years to protect my daughter and I found he died of ALS and it broke my heart. My therapist said in a way it could have been karma for all the children he hurt and I have wondered that myself but then, at the same time, I hurt for him that he died that way. You bring up a good point in your post because we don’t have to lose our beauty inside ourselves dealing with our narcissists. I mean, Jesus spoke it like it was but He didn’t lose His spiritual loveliness. I don’t feel guilty for the times I have to work through rage and hate for my family but I don’t feel wrong, weak or ashamed to still love them and pray for them. I feel right having the balance of both realities. I appreciate you and some of the other bloggers letting us comment on your blogs. It has added to my healing experience because I am one of those that writes daily in my journal so it is helpful to be able to “write out” some of my thoughts in response to your thoughts. I wish I could meet all of you and hang, have a prayer and share time together 🙂 because I feel like I am getting to know you guys because of how open and vulnerable you are.
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It would be awesome if we could all meet sometime, wouldn’t it? Thanks for your comments.
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This actually also follows the wisdom I was always given in AA. We pray for those who are spiritually out of alignment with love and don’t hold onto anger too long, as its recognised doing so only damages us and turns us into the demon we hate. Great post.
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LuckyOttersHaven, I have no words for you! There is a special place in Heaven for people like you! I had the loveliest parents on earth so I cry reading through all you went through and still go through due to your upbringing. You are so brave and strong and such a powerful example to so many!!! That you haven’t lost your faith in Jesus and can forgive is just extraordinary! More power to you!
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