I will never forget the reaction I got from across the table. It was the sort of incredulous look you might expect a nun to give Lady Gaga. Only it was happening to me, and I didn’t know why. The two of us were breaking bread that night, and I was the one to say grace. “What was that [you prayed]!?” they asked, almost before I could finish praying. It felt like my prayer was being criticized like a solo-performance by Simon Cowell. I was not sure what i said wrong, so I asked. They replied, “You pleaded the blood of Jesus on our food! That is creepy. Where did you get that from?”
If you have watched televangelists or been in certain charismatic circles, doubtless you have heard someone say, “I plead the blood of Jesus.” I said it for many years, as I was taught. I never gave it a second thought until one faithful day. I had been taught to always cover my food in the blood of Jesus and to turn the drink I consumed into the blood of Jesus. It was taught at my church that not to do so at any time could risk me being poisoned. Naturally i obsessed over it. If ever I forgot to I would panic.
I also pled the blood of Jesus over my car and the roads I drove on, as well as anything that could pose a potential danger to me or my loved ones. sometimes I would plead the blood of Jesus over and over again over things and people, as if pleading more of the blood of Jesus would make them safer. It became my magic bullet.
In certain charismatic circles, pleading the blood of Jesus is not just for protection. It is also a phrase commonly used in spiritual warfare. We are taught that demons fear the mention of the blood of Jesus. I personally attended many “deliverance services” (or group exorcisms) over the years at a former church. During these services we were instructed to cup our hands and hold them out, and ask Jesus to pour His blood from Heaven into our hands.
Then we would repeat, I wash my mind, my conscience, my hands, my feet, and my private parts in the blood of Jesus, as we symbolically used our hands to wash ourselves. The psychological implication being that each time we washed a part of ourselves it was to free us from some guilt or condemnation from a prior sin. The more guilt we experienced the more vigorously many of us would wash ourselves. The constant feeling of needing to be cleansed from my filth by the blood of Jesus with these ritual acts was emotionally taxing.
I am quite aware that most Christians do not partake in such extreme rituals when “pleading the blood” during their warfare prayers, but the question still remains: is it biblical? Ephesians chapter six is thought of as the most significant spiritual warfare chapter of the new testament. Surprisingly enough for many Christians, when it lists our defenses and weapons, it does not list the blood of Jesus at all. The entire book only mentions the blood of Jesus twice. It tells us that we have redemption and forgiveness of sins through it (1:7), and that it has brought us close to God (Ephesians 2:13).The true power of the blood of jesus is that it is emblematic of Jesus’ death for us.
Another passage used for spiritual warfare is James 4:7, which says that Satan will flee from the Christian who resists him by submitting to God. Pleading the blood is not mentioned in this verse either. Furthermore, no where in the bible are there any instructions to plead the blood of Jesus, nor is there any instruction to cover anything or anyone in the blood of Jesus.
Then where does the idea of pleading the blood of Jesus come from, and what does it mean anyway? To potentially answer that question, we turn to the book of Exodus. It is a passage that makes reference to the Hebrew’s deliverance from the last plague of Egypt, the death of the firstborn. By placing the blood of a lamb on their doorposts, the last plague would pass over their homes.
“Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations.” – Exodus 12:13
In the twentieth century, Word of Faith preachers began making an obvious, but misguided connection.Jesus is the new testament Lamb that was slain and we could apply His blood for protection.
However, nowhere in the new testament is the blood of Jesus used in this way.
Another poor inference that has been made by some is that because In old testament times it was the custom of the high priest to annually enter into the holy place to offer a blood sacrifice for the unintentional sins of the people, that Jesus must still often sprinkle His blood. Hebrews chapter nine speaks of how this was used as a symbol of what Jesus, our high priest, would eventually do, when He once appeared before the mercy-seat and offered His blood for our sins for all time.
However, when we pray to cover ourselves and our saved loved ones in the blood of Jesus, we are implying that somehow we are not always covered by Jesus’ death, and that his blood needs to be applied again and again as if it were something we are magically evoking for protection. This is an affront to the words of Jesus, “It is finished.”