How to Pray for Those in Sin


(Thirty plus years ago God put Don Rogers in my life.  He trained and mentored me in spiritual ministry.  When he was no longer able to minister, I had the privilege of taking over his “Spiritual Warfare Ministries”.  He had written many articles about spiritual warfare.  I have edited and added to his work for this blog.)

Simply defined, intercessory repentance [IR] is the practice of interceding for those who are bound by sin by repenting on their behalf through confessing their sins to God until they are brought to repentance.  It consists of a heartfelt sorrow concerning other’s sins against God and the desire for them to turn away from their sin and submit themselves to God. We do not in any way seek to undermine the responsibility of the individual to be accountable for their sins.  They must ultimately seek forgiveness from God.  But through intercessory prayer we can ask God for mercy to block any openings these sins give to the enemy to blind the person and keep them in bondage.  Our goal is to allow the person to freely see the issues and be able to make a choice to turn to Jesus for salvation and victory.

Often we are not able to talk with those who are involved in sin because they are very defensive, hostile or self-righteous about their behavior.  Praying for their sins to be broken provides a powerful way of ministering to those who cannot be reached in any other way. It avoids confrontation on a human level, but is a very powerful way to confront the enemy on a spiritual level.

There are ample scriptural precedents to support this principle. Let us examine various elements of this principle in God’s Word.

  1. The Believer’s Priesthood

God directed that Aaron be consecrated as the first high priest of Israel. God established him as the model of priesthood. Priests were to be guardians and servants of the relationship God wanted with His people. The priests represented Israel before God and they also represented God to Israel.  In Leviticus 16, we are provided with detailed insight concerning the high priest’s duties. On the Day of Atonement he prepared himself through physical cleansing and then offered a sin offering to make atonement for himself and his family. Following this, he interceded on behalf of the people and once again entered into the presence of God. Aaron received from the people two male goats.  One goat was sacrificed as a sin offering and the other was made a scapegoat upon which the peoples’ sins were placed and then sent out into the wilderness.

The point is that the priest first dealt with his own sin and then he came before God with the sins of the people. We have been taught that our priesthood primarily involves direct access to God; that we can come boldly and directly to Him through prayer. That is true. But our priesthood also involves bringing the sins of others to God, confessing sin on their behalf and asking for God’s grace to be extended to them so they may repent. As priests we come to our high priest, Jesus Christ and draw upon the grace provided by the shedding of His blood. As He makes intercession for us, so we make intercession for others, confessing their sins to God. In so doing, we bless them and frustrate the enemy by undermining his sin claim.

2. Forgiveness and Love

Intercessory prayer for others is not possible unless there is true forgiveness in our own hearts. We have to let go of judgment towards others no matter what they have done to us or to others we love, because the Lord loves them and that is His will. It may be difficult at first, but the Lord will help you do this.  Strange as it may seem, we will also benefit if we are obedient in this manner. Through this act of forgiving grace, we will begin to see the person in a new light and will be released from the inner turmoil that has influenced us. It can bring much healing to the body of Christ.

3. Burden Bearing

Gal 6:1-2  “My friends, if anyone is detected in a transgression, you who have received the Spirit should restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness. Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

I cannot think of a better way to restore people than to repent for their sins which are grieving God, so that His grace may bring conviction in the area of the sin and hopefully repentance will follow. We can help fan the fires of conviction as we cooperate with the Holy Spirit, because God will honor our priestly work. After a time a change of attitude in the individual is often detected and an opening may be provided in which someone is able to speak to the person in a loving and gentle way concerning sin issues. We encourage parents to minister to rebellious children by confessing their sins daily.

4. Discernment and Warfare

Eph 6:18 “Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.”  As we intercede for those bound by sin, the Spirit will give insight as to the nature of the sin and also the activity of Satan concerning it. It is very difficult to bind up the power of any spirit that is working in someone’s life unless the sin claim, that gives him power to operate, has been addressed through intercession.

5. The Corporate Element

It is difficult for Americans to understand our corporate accountability before God, because we are culturally very independent and individualistic people. In the scriptures we witness the sin of an individual affecting future generations in a family (2 Ki 5:26-27) and also affecting a nation (Jos 22:20). In many respects, we are our brother’s keeper. (Gen 4:9) God considers us accountable for how we feel about others, and how we treat and relate to them. Our sins affect others and their sins affect us.

Ask God whom He would want you to intercede for this week.  Ask Him to help you learn how to cover the person’s sins with the blood of Jesus.  In the next blog we’ll look at some Bible examples of interceding for others in sin.

© Copyright 1998 Spiritual Warfare Ministries, Inc., © 2013 Christian Training Organization.

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