For Whom Should We Pray?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Hi D____,

Thank you for your question.

Christ did indeed tell us “I pray not for the world,” and we ought to follow His example.

Joh 17:9  I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.

There are other verses which pertain to this subject which I simply did not have time to include in that study, but they all say the same thing. Our ‘alabaster box of ointment’ and our prayers and affections should be on the “things above,” where Christ is with His Father, and where all of His elect are in Christ.

Col 3:1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
Col 3:2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

Our prayers and our affections ought not to be on things on this earth. As cold-hearted as it seems, turning a brother or sister over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh is the best thing we can do for that brother or sister. It is designed to produce repentance and restoration, without infecting the whole body with the “leaven of the Pharisees.”

1Co 5:1  It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.
1Co 5:2  And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.
1Co 5:3  For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed,
1Co 5:4  In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,
1Co 5:5  To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
1Co 5:6  Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?
1Co 5:7  Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:

The whole purpose of delivering any brother or sister to Satan is “that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.” Paul makes the same point again:

2Th 3:14  And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.
2Th 3:15  Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

This is the same thing Paul is telling the Corinthians, but he adds something that is not made clear in 1 Corinthians. He says “Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” If we understand “have no company with him” to mean ‘don’t even speak with him’ then it would be hard to “admonish him as a brother.”

Obviously the infamous “shunning,” which is advocated by some churches, where church members are commanded not to even speak to a former brother, is not what Paul had in mind. We can easily “have no company” with a brother, in the sense of not seeking that brother out as a social buddy, and still be capable of speaking to him and admonishing Him if he is receptive to such.

All of this is a perfect parallel for how we should pray for “any man who is called a brother.”

1Co 5:11  But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.
1Co 5:12  For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?
1Co 5:13  But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

It is significant that Paul says “no not to eat” instead of ‘no not to speak.’ There is a world of difference between sharing food with a brother and admonishing a brother. In the first case you are receiving, and in the second you are giving. A fornicator has no good food to offer, but you should have good food to offer him, if he is receptive.

So it is with prayer. If a brother requests prayer, and is receptive to his need for prayer, then we should by all means pray for that brother. I do still ask God to show a wayward brother mercy, and to strengthen him to do what he knows needs to be done, but I am not praying for people who have never been granted an interest in the mind of Christ, and have certainly never asked for prayer. “I pray not for the world, but for those you have given me.”

Here are a couple more scriptures to keep in mind concerning prayer for others.

1Jn 5:16  If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.
1Jn 5:17  All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.
1Jn 5:18  We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.
1Jn 5:19  And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.
1Jn 5:20  And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.
1Jn 5:21  Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.

“There is a sin that is not unto death,” because we all struggle against “the works of the flesh.” But there is also “a sin unto death” which is somehow connected to “that wicked one” under whom “the whole world lies in wickedness.”

Rev 12:9  And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

John contrasts this “sin unto death,” with these words.

1Jn 5:20  And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.

It is “an understanding, that we may know Him that is true, ” which keeps us from sinning “a sin unto death.” John concludes with these words.

Joh 5:21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen

There is no indication that either the Judaizers who so persecuted the early Christians, or the Gentile converts to whom Paul was sent, were deeply involved in outward idol worship, but there is every indication that both the Judaizers and the Gentile converts were constantly confronting “idols of the heart,” and there is every reason to believe that this is the “sin unto death” to which John is referring in this very context.

Look at this second scripture concerning those for whom we should pray. It is written by this same apostle dealing with this same situation in his very next epistle:

2Jn 1:9  Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.
2Jn 1:10  If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:
2Jn 1:11  For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.

If you cannot “receive him into our house” nor even bid a false prophet “God speed”, then you surely should not pray for him because he “hath not God” and is therefore of this world. It was those who withstood His doctrine of whom Christ said, “I pray not for the world, but I pray for those you have given me.” It was those who withstood His doctrine of whom Christ said:

Joh 8:43  Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.
Joh 8:44  Ye are of your father the devi l, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
Joh 8:45  A nd because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.

These are those for whom Christ reserved His harshest words. “You are of your father the devil… [ who] abode not in the Truth… When he speaks [ it is] a lie… because there is no Truth in him.”

These are also those for whom Christ’s apostles reserved their harshest words. It was those who could not “understand Christ’s speech, because they could not hear His Word. His Word is spoken by those who “try the spirits to see whether they are of God.” They are not spoken by those who tell you that you need only to “agree with the essentials and to show tolerance for error in the non essentials.” Of course, they are the ones who will tell you what is and what is not essential Christian doctrine.  Christ asked His Father to keep His true disciples as one body:

Joh 17:11  And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.
Joh 17:22  And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:

Do Christ and His Father “agree on the essentials and tolerate the non essentials?” Here are what Christ said was essential to all Christian doctrines:

Mat 4:4  But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

It was those who withstood His Word of whom Christ spoke when He said, “I pray not for the world but for those you have given me.” Those who withstood Christ’s Word simply could not believe that God could exist in sinful flesh, as He does now in our sinful flesh. These are the ones who denied Christ while He was on earth, and they are those who deny Him today:

1Jn 4:3  And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

Notice that John does not encourage us to pray for those who have “that spirit of antichrist”. In His next epistle his makes this statement:

2Jn 1:7  For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.
2Jn 1:8  Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.
2Jn 1:9  Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.

Finally Paul says this about those who withstood his words:

2Ti 4:14  Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works:
2Ti 4:15  Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words.

Did Paul encourage Timothy to pray for Alexander the coppersmith? No, he did not. Instead he simply says “Of whom be you ware also: for he hath greatly withstood our words.”

There is a world of difference between those who are fighting against the physical circumstances of life into which God has placed them to show them thing about themselves, and bringing false doctrines into the body of Christ.

So please continue to pray for these brethren. Neither one has “withstood our words”, and neither denies “that Christ is come in the flesh, and neither “is a deceiver and an antichrist.” If an unbelieving family member of a fellow believer becomes sick or is injured, then we know that such a situation is going to grieve and in many cases, work a great hardship on our believing brother in Christ. There is nothing at all wrong with praying that an injured unbelieving family member or friend be healed and restored to health for the benefit of our brother or sister in Christ. Indeed it would be less than loving to do otherwise.
It is those who withstand Christ’s Word, who deny that He “is come in the flesh,” either then or now, and it is those who “abide not in the doctrine of Christ,” who have “sinned a sin unto death. I do not say that you should pray for them.” We have all done so in our past, and we were withstanding the Words of Christ and were “turned over to Satan for the destruction of our flesh” until our old man died to those false doctrines which we once espoused.
It is true that we “pray not for the world, but for those you have given me.” But it is also true that those who are in our fellowship in any degree, are never to be “treated as an enemy, but admonished as a brother,” so long as they do not deny that Christ is come in their flesh, and so long as they are not withstanding “the doctrine of Christ.”

“There is a sin that is not unto death.” Let’s continue to pray for any who have requested our prayers.
I hope this helps you to better understand for whom we should pray.

Your brother in Christ,
Mike

Other related posts