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  Praying for Sinners

Praying for Sinners and Enemies

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Among difficult and complex themata this one belongs. 

  • Not that it is hard to understand that we should pray for our enemies, but that it may be hard to know what to pray for! 
  • Not that it is hard to understand that we should pray for our Brothers and Sisters who are caught up in sin, but in the fact that we may not know when not to pray for them.
Matthew 5:43,44, Ye have heard that it was said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy: 44 but I say unto you, love your enemies, and pray for them that persecute you; 45that ye may be sons of your Father who is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust. . . (ASV)

What are we asking when we pray for forgiveness on someone else?

As we see here, we should pray for our enemies and even for those among our enemies that actively persecute us.  This may appear a difficult demand to many.  However, for those that have read the page about " Forgiveness or Not   Do Christians have to forgive all? " –  the meaning is clear. 

A secret, and a little fun

For others, here is a little fun, a little secret about praying for ones enemies and for those that persecute us.  Perhaps a quiet hidden snickering can be imagined by Paul and Jesus when they told us to pray for our enemies and also did it themselves.  Ask yourself what we really are asking God to do when we say "forgive him his sins?" (Whether these are committed against our own person or something else is immaterial.)

To keep things simple, let's imagine that the person if approved gets a heavenly resurrection on dying.  The question then is – can God really let an evil person into heaven?  No!  Impossible!  Can God permit a person who sins wilfully into heaven?  Again, emphatically, No!  In no way!  So when  we request God in prayer to forgive them their sins, we are actually asking God to refine these.  Such refinement comes around through hard discipline, the paying back of God of their sins in form of suffering!  (Heb 12:4-6)
Heb 12:4-6, Ye have not yet resisted as far as blood, struggling against sin. 5And have ye forgotten the exhortation that reasons with you as with sons, My son, do not disparage the chastening of Lord, nor become disheartened when punished by him? 6For whom Lord loves he chastens. And he whips every son whom he receives. (ACV)
There are only two distinct reactions to this discipline of God, one reaction is to cleanse oneself of one's sins and become holy by abstaining from sin (1 Pet 4:1), the other is to curse God and king and leave God, become disapproved and an apostate.
Therefore of Christ having suffered in flesh for us, arm ye yourselves also with the same mentality, because he who has suffered in flesh has ceased from sin. (ACV)
From the above, it is obvious that any of those who have committed an unforgivable sin cannot be refined and cleansed from their unholy works.  For this reason, it would be improper to request that God do so since they have chosen to be God's enemies.

What sins Do to Christians

The scripture below illustrates in this context that a Christian's sins brings punishment and discipline of varying degrees from God, even to the point of death.  The sleep mentioned here refers to having fallen asleep in death!
I Corinthians 11:29,30, For he who eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks condemnation to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord. 30Because of this many are weak and sickly among you, and a considerable sleep. (ACV)

When is a Sin Unto Death

Below, we are told to pray for our Brothers when their sins are not to death.
I John 5:16, If any man see his brother sinning a sin not unto death, he shall ask, and God will give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: not concerning this do I say that he should make request. (ASV)
This tells us that there are times that we may discern the outcome of a sin someone commits.  How so?

Well, it may be admitted that at times this is beyond our human ability.  Still, many times it is possible to know if the sinner is unrepentant!  Usually, that is the key to the problem. 

In 1 John 3:3, this is demonstrated:
I John 3:3, And every one that hath this hope set on him purifieth himself,  even as he is pure. (ASV)

I John 3:4-9, Every one that doeth sin doeth also lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. 5And ye know that he was manifested to take away sins; and in him is no sin. 6Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither knoweth him. 7 My little children, let no man lead you astray: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous: 8 he that doeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. To this end was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. 9Whosoever is begotten of God doeth no sin, because his seed abideth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is begotten of God. 10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.
Thus we are talking about accidental sin, non willful sin, non practice of sin – when we talk about praying for someone who sins.

Those that willfully practice sin cannot be of God, they are of the Devil, and he is their Father.
James 5:13, Is any among you suffering? Let him pray. Is any cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: 15and the prayer of faith shall save him that is sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, it shall be forgiven him.

16Confess therefore your sins one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The supplication of a righteous man availeth much in its working.

17Elijah was a man of like passions with us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain; and it rained not on the earth for three years and six months. 18And he prayed again; and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit. 19My brethren, if any among you err from the truth, and one convert him; 20 let him know, that he who converteth a sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall cover a multitude of sins. (ASV)
Sometimes, a person may have committed a sin several times consecutively.  However, if that person repents and turns around, it would seem that their repentance shows that this was perhaps not willful and not a practice of sin.

In the end, God through Christ shall judge all these actions no matter what we on earth do.  So if you pray for someone that turns out to have committed an unforgivable sin, you perhaps were not in a position to know this and shouldn't feel bad for that.

Please do not make the mistake to think that because sins are forgiven that these are not punished.  All sin will receive the appropriate punishment according to God's mercy and wrath if necessary – there is no escaping this for anyone of us.

About the qualities of faith, anti faith, zero faith, and expressed faith – more is said on another page.  In regard to punishment and how we cannot escape it, this too is covered in greater detail on another page.
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