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Praying for Difficult People outlines effective prayer startegies for frustrating situations.

© G. Hartwell, October 2002, (416) 234-1850

Praying for Difficult People

Effective Christian prayer formats


Think about your life.

1. Is there someone you know and love who does not know or understand the need to have Jesus as their Savior and Lord?

2. Have you ever wanted to know how to pray for a teenager or young adult who has run away from their family or is going wild?

3. Do you have someone who always expresses bitterness, or who always complains, and nothing you say seems to help?

4. Have you encountered people who seemed quite resistant to godly counsel? You felt that you had something to say but you knew that it was not getting through.

Keep these names in your mind as you learn how to pray for 'difficult people.'


Level the Playing Field

When praying for the lost or the prodigal, think of leveling the playing field. You want the person to be able to make up his or her own mind. You are not trying to manipulate their mind. However, neither do you want to allow Satan, or powers of darkness to be allowed free access to seduce, beguile, deceive or confuse the loved one that you are praying for. The blood of Jesus is a powerful prayer of protection to use.

Scripture speaks of the enemy veiling the eyes of the unbeliever. You don't want to allow that to happen, so you pray, in Jesus name, that God will protect them so that their eyes can see clearly and their minds discern correctly.

The Bible speaks of us facing a choice between life and death, between blessing and cursing. You want the person you are praying for to see clearly that choice before them. If they are sinning you want them to see, understand, feel and experience the consequences of that sin, of their choices. You want to pray that they can see the paths before them: a path toward life abundant and a path to death and misery.

You do not use your prayer to force them to choose a particular path. Instead, you pray that they know what their choice is. You might put it like this.

"Father, I pray that You protect (name) from any confusion, deception or game playing by other people or the enemy.

I pray that their mind be open and that their spiritual eyes can see the path before them: a path leading to death and destruction and a path to life and life abundant. May they be free to make up their own mind, make their own choices and face the consequences of those choices. Give them eyes to see the consequences of their choices."


Put in a God Inclination

In Jesus name, I pray that Your Spirit would incline them to choose life, that You would call them to yourself, may they know Your love - God love. Send a messenger (angel or human) who can share with them the gospel of Jesus in terms that they would understand.


Total Release

"(Name) is Your child, Father. You gave (name) life. You have loved and watched over (name) all their life. You sent your Son Jesus to give His life to save (name.) So I commit (name) totally into Your care. He (or she) is in Your hands. They are yours, Father.

I release them from my hold. I cut the apron strings. I let go. I step back. I take my hands off. They are yours.

I give you permission to do whatever it takes to bring them to the point where they discover Your purpose for their life. Whatever it takes for them to come to their senses. Whatever it takes for them to discover the Joy of serving You.

May Your will and Your purposes for them be done. 

Not by my prayers but by Your Spirit, Lord. I commend them into Your hand

Mediation Prayer

Are there times when people want you to listen but they are closed to your counsel? They may not want you to pray for them. They just want to talk about their problems. They need a listener and you are it.

Never underestimate God's ability to break through to the chronic complainer. God can do it and you never know when it may happen.

Meantime what do you do with all the problems that are getting dumped on you?

Be a Pipe to Heaven!

Be a pipe not a garbage can. Be a pipe to heaven!

In your heart have a little agreement with God that goes like this: "God I can't stand hearing all these complaints especially since (name) won't listen to me or let me pray with them. I feel so helpless. There is nothing I can do. I can't reach them. So I am going to stop trying to reach them and put them in Your hands.

When they talk, I am going to listen, but I am going to let You listen too! In fact I am going to send everything that they say up to you. You can listen to their bitterness, (or whatever.) You can deal with them. I give up. Mentally I am sending them to You.

Maybe You can reach them. I can't"


Build a Praise Highway to Heaven.

Someone has shared their problem with you and you really hurt for them. You are burdened with concern. You love them. You want to pray for them.

There is a way to have God touch them without pleading with God in prayer. It is to praise and worship God. Sing praises. Speak praises. Focus on who God is. Express your feelings for god to God.

A strange thing happens when you get totally focused on God and forget the burden. Your burden gets lifted off you and up to heaven. Without you trying to the person you feel for as an intercessor will be touched by God.

As your spirit lifted to God so did the burden - which was on your spirit as well. So the burden got to heaven - by the highway of praise.


Send the Holy Spirit.

Remember that the Holy Spirit is the Counsellor, the Comforter. When you can't get through to someone, the Holy Spirit can. What you say to someone is screened by their mind. The Holy Spirit has a distinct advantage; He reaches the heart.

Do you give up? Then step back. Take hands off. Send the Holy Spirit!

For example you can pray like this:

"Father I can't reach (name.) I am going to let you speak to them. Their mind is closed to me; but you can reach their heart. Your Spirit leaps over mountains and bounds over hills, The Song of Solomon 2:8. No barrier is too big for you.  So, please send Your Holy Spirit to (name) and you tell them what they need to know.

I am going to take my hands off. I am going to leave them in your hands. I am not going to keep trying to get through to them until you show me that the door is open."

Deliverance from Evil - a severe prayer for severe situations

There is a time I would pray that God do whatever is necessary to convert another.  There are times when you and others see that this person brings about evil wherever they are.  They are acting like an agent of evil.  I want this agent of evil  stopped no matter what.  I want my loved ones and other protected and delivered from evil.  I am acting as a shepherd of the flock.

This is a severe prayer for a severe situation. Deliverence from evil in this situation means that the 'agent of evil' is either converted by God or removed from where they can do harm to God's children.

The implication is that I am asking that the Lord take them home if they are going to continue to do evil and harm others.  God knows if they are going to resist God's efforts to save and transform them into agents of good.  I am very careful in discernment before using this severe prayer of 'deliverance.'  Seek some community support in discernment before using such severe prayer.

7 Prayer Guidelines

Remember these seven important prayer guidelines:

1. Listen to God. Before you speak listen. Attune yourself to God. Be open to the inspiration of heaven as you speak or write your prayer.

2. Agreement. There is power in a spoken prayer in which two or more hear and agree with the prayer.

3. Humility. You are not God. Focus on God's will and God's power. It helps to step back and take hands off to signal that you can't handle this and to let God take over.

4. Do not use prayer to control God. Do not whine at God. Do not plead. Do not gang up on God - as in 'get more people to pray then God will listen.' When you listen - guideline #1 - and pray in line with God's will, you don't use prayer to convince God. 

5. Do not use prayer to control people. Do not tell God how you want someone made over. Also, do not pray for something to happen to someone as in: 'praying that someone would have trials so that they will learn patience.' Not!

6. If you are not sure what God's will is in a situation, don't pray specifics. Pray more general. For example, I bless what God is doing in this person's life.

7. Do not pray to Satan or command Satan (or principalities and powers.) Do not bind Satan. Avoid naming or focusing prayers around Satan. Also do not command angels because you are not the Lord of Hosts - God is. You can request - God commands.

When you believe that it is necessary to deal with Satan's power in prayer, then address God and his power and authority. For example, praise God for what He has done. Second, request God deal with Satan or the powers of darkness. This way you avoid addressing prayers to Satan or principalities or powers. As you keep the naming Satan or evil powers to the absolute minimum you avoid inviting the presence of evil. That is why you keep your focus on invoking God's presence.


The Prayer Series

1. Spiritual Warfare
2. Job Interview Prayer
3. Safe Prayers of Protection
4.  Prayer is a Life-style
5. Faith of the Heart
6. How to pray for difficult people
7. How to pray in a personal crisis
8. How to pray for physical Healing
9. How to break Curses