Have you ever heard someone giving a testimony and in their details of what they did in response to the situation or spiritual warfare they were engaging in was to Plead the Blood of Jesus over the situation, their surroundings, or themselves? Once again, we will be addressing a popular Charismatic / Pentecostal practice of “pleading the blood”. If you’ve never heard of this practice, this charismamag article will explain their teaching on this practice.
Where are we taught to include this in our prayer?
The CharismaMag article doesn’t say. That’s because it cannot be found in Scripture. Nowhere do we find any reference to pleading the blood of Jesus Christ over a situation, person, or place. When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, there was no mention of declaring, decreeing, or pleading anything.
Matthew 6:5-15 (ESV) | The Lord’s Prayer
5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them,for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Notice Jesus’ teaching here about the purpose of prayer. He warns not to pray like the hypocrites that they may be seen by others (decree / declare / plead?). We don’t pray to demons, or principalities or powers, or schemes of the devil… we pray to Our Father in Heaven. In fact, the closest example of invoking a plea / command in an attempt to exorcise a demon went horribly, horribly wrong for those doing the invoking.
Acts 19:11-20 (ESV) | The Sons of Sceva
11 And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them.13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” 14 Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. 15 But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” 16 And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17 And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled.18 Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. 19 And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.
They confessed and repented of their mysticism (don’t think it was only pagan mysticism, Jewish mysticism is included here), and burned their costly implements. The Word of the Lord, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is what increased and prevailed, not invoking the name of the Jesus Paul preached… if the Name of Jesus didn’t work for these mystics, neither will invoking His blood in this way.
But how can this be wrong for Christians?
First, I go back to the critical point that we are never instructed in Scriptures to pray that way. Second, there is a lot of convoluted philosophical rationale based on proof texting that starts with idea that Jesus has been given all authority… which is true… but ends with an odd notion that we are deputized to decree the blood of Jesus over ourselves (as believers), others, situations, and places to expand Christ’s Kingdom here on earth. For starters, let’s go to the Great Commission (a passage not quoted in the article):
Matthew 28:16-20 (ESV) | The Great Commission
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Indeed, all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus. Jesus gives us our charge here… to make disciples, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, teaching them all that Jesus has commanded us. Were we given all authority? No. We were given a charge by the One to whom all authority in Heaven and on Earth resides.
Here is where the philosophical rationale comes in… by first limiting the understanding of the authority of Jesus Christ coming only from His shed blood. The blood He shed on the cross He gave as payment for our sins and unrighteousness. He laid down His life for the sheep, His body was broken for us, and His blood is the new covenant. If my wording seems familiar, you’ve probably guessed by now where we are going to look next.
1 Corinthians 11:23-34 (ESV)
23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord.28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31 But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged.32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.
33 So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another— 34 if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come.
This is for believers, those who are by faith adopted into the Kingdom of Heaven. This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the New Covenant, that He laid down His life on the cross for our sake, so that in Him we might be justified by faith. This is a serious matter, one not to be taken lightly by any means. I really wish the phrase “pleading the Blood” was connected to the communion cup… but it isn’t.
The next step in the logic train, is to confuse our charge of preaching Law and Gospel pointing the lost to Christ with some self-aggrandizing theology of expanding the Kingdom of God by exploring new lands and claiming them in the Name of Jesus. I don’t know if this comes from dispensationalism or post-millenialism, but it’s self-focused and works-based. God saved you when you were dead in your sins and trespasses… He doesn’t need you to expand His Kingdom. By Grace you get the opportunity to preach the Gospel. This is an important distinction to grasp. For the purpose-driven folks reading this… I’m sure there is a lot of resistance to this idea. We’ll continue working through that barrier as the weeks progress.
Finally, the end of the logic train is the notion that (despite it NOT being taught in Scripture to do so) the “pleading the Blood” thing is taught as spiritual warfare. As deputies of Jesus Christ, the logic goes that it’s somehow your job to pray against demonic forces a certain way to secure peace, reprieve, health, and even salvation for another who is imprisoned in darkness. What we should be doing is preaching the Word of God to those who are in bondage while praying to God the Father for their salvation.
There is no Scriptural basis for praying this way. This is at-best, a bad mysticism-driven alternative to preaching Law and Gospel, Sin and Grace, Repentance and the Forgiveness of sins. We pray to God, not to the enemy. We Preach the Word of God, not our desires mixed with an invocation of the Blood of Jesus Christ to give our desires validity. It is natural for the flesh to want some measure of control over any given situation… even if it has to invent those measures and proof-text the philosophy behind it. This natural, fleshly desire is to be submitted to the Scriptures along with every other temptation. Pray to God, not things, situations, nor spirits. For additional thoughts on this matter, the folks at GotQuestions? covered this. Their focus is primarily on the Word of Faith (WoF) movement.
Instead of attaching some form of pleading the blood to your attempts at commanding authority over spirits, Preach the Word to the lost and hurting. Also remember that Christians still need to hear both Law and Gospel. We need to hear that our sins have been forgiven by the finished work of Christ on the cross. How wonderful it would be to redefine “plea the blood of Jesus” as a reminder of the communion cup, the sign of the New Covenant of Jesus Christ!
Jude 24-25 (ESV) | Doxology
24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
In Christ Jesus,