Have you ever gone through an intense time of intercession? How did you feel when it was over? Intercessors often tell me they feel “black and blue,” as if they have been in a battle. Or they feel heavy or drained after praying for someone. Intercessors often take people home with them spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. They wrestle all night over what the person is going through.
If this is what intercession is like for you, you may be relieved to know it doesn’t have to be that way. Spiritual cleansing prayers can help you be restored to yourself after a time of intercession. You will find it easier to breathe and go about your life, trusting the person or situation to God’s care.
I’m not saying it is always easy to intercede. Sometimes it does get pretty intense, especially in travailing prayer. We need times of rest and recharging in between times of prayer. But overall, intercession doesn’t need to feel heavy or draining. You don’t need to wrestle all night long.
The Lord tells us His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30). After all, He is the one carrying the person or situation we are interceding for. Jesus is the ultimate Intercessor (Hebrews 7:25). In order for Him to move on the person’s behalf or in the situation we are praying over, we need to get out of His way. When we overstep our bounds as intercessors, and try to take the situations on ourselves, we can actually block what the Lord is trying to do. Instead, He wants us to invite Him into each situation, and then let His Spirit work.
Cleansing Prayers: A Healthy Way to End a Prayer Session
One of the most effective practices that will help you get out of the Lord’s way is to pray cleansing prayers after your time of intercession. When you intercede for someone, you come into agreement with them, in the spirit realm, on the issues you are praying about. You make a type of spiritual connection as you approach the throne of God together (Hebrews 4:16). When you pray cleansing prayers to close out your time of intercession, it breaks the connection. That is the healthy way to end any time of intercession.
If you don’t intentionally break that spiritual connection when your prayer time is done, you could be taking that person home with you spiritually. That’s where the all-night wrestling and heaviness come in. If that person is being oppressed by the enemy, you might continue to be harassed yourself for hours or even days later.
It will help if you become intentional about saying cleansing prayers after your times of intercession. Otherwise, it is so easy to forget to pray cleansing prayers. We get caught up in the person’s situation, or what the Lord is doing. Then we say, “Amen” and go about our day. So make cleansing prayers a habit, a natural part of closing out each time of prayer.
Cleanse Where Any Spiritual Connection Is Made
Cleansing prayers are important whether you are praying with someone, in person, or praying on your own, from afar. Spiritually you are connected, either way. When you are in the company of the person you are praying with, it is important that they also hear your cleansing prayers (out loud), so they can be aware the connection is being broken. (Another purpose of praying this out loud is so the person will not think you had anything to do with the results of the prayer. You want them to focus only on Jesus.) If you are praying from afar, it is equally important that you pray for cleansing, for the other person’s sake as well as your own. You both need that temporary spiritual connection to be broken, so you can be restored to yourselves, stay connected only with Jesus, and go on your way.
Cleansing prayers are vital whether you are praying for one person or many. We have a team that goes into the local jail for ministry once a week. Before we leave, our whole team circles up to pray cleansing prayers. It has become our habit, and we don’t leave the property until we have done this. We take turns reminding each other to do our cleansing prayers, in case one of us should forget. We pray that we will be cleansed of anything we encountered in the jail, and also that the women we worked with will be cleansed from anything spiritual we brought in.
If You Forget to Pray for Cleansing
If you forget to pray for cleansing, you will probably realize it soon afterward. If you are worrying about a situation in your mind the next day, did you pray cleansing? Pray it as soon as you realize it. It is never too late. If you feel like the enemy is following you home from a prayer session, did you pray cleansing?
There have been times when I have called my teammates on the phone after a prayer session and said, “We forgot to pray for cleansing.” And we will pray at that moment together. Usually I am prompted to make that call because I feel the enemy has harassed me all the way home. Once we pray for cleansing, the harassment stops. If I can’t reach a teammate by phone, I pray for their cleansing from afar. Then I email them and remind them to pray for cleansing too.
If a teammate has to leave a prayer session early, we will include them spiritually in our cleansing prayers at the end of our prayer time. And we will email and remind them to pray for cleansing as well. When it’s possible, we have a teammate step aside and pray cleansing over that person before they leave early. This may not always be logistically possible, but it is certainly a helpful habit to practice.
Practice Routine Cleansing Prayers
You want to be sure you leave any place spiritually cleansed after you’ve been praying there. Even when you’re not interceding, it’s a good idea to pray cleansing prayers whenever you leave a space. Ask God to clean up anything spiritual that you brought in. Whether it’s an office, a hotel room, or a friend’s house that you visit, pray for God to cleanse the atmosphere of any spiritual residue you might have left there.
If you are a church intercessor, make sure your prayer team has a practice in place for routine spiritual cleansing of the building and property. So many people move through a church on a regular basis, and they may be carrying all kinds of spiritual debris. That’s fine! That’s exactly what churches are for. Ideally, they leave that debris at the altar and go home with the peace of Christ. But as an intercessor for the church, you need to be sure your prayer team prays for God to sweep up that debris and loose the Holy Spirit in its place. When I used to serve in intercession at a church, I once told the church janitor, “We have similar jobs.”
A Sample Cleansing Prayer
A cleansing prayer can be very simple. The words are less important than the intent of your heart. The following cleansing prayer can help you get started, but let the Holy Spirit lead you each time. Prayers are not about being rote. They are about engaging in conversation in an active, ongoing relationship with God. You don’t want to pray with rote words any more than you would speak to your spouse that way. Just pray from your heart.
“Lord Jesus, thank You for everything you have done in ________ (this person’s heart, this situation, this place). We ask that You seal everything You’ve done, and we praise You for it. Lord, now cleanse each of us, so that we don’t take anything away from here that doesn’t belong to us. Wash us clean of anything we have picked up that is not of You. Return to each of us what is ours, cleansed by Your Spirit. Where we have made a spiritual connection to each other (or to other people), separate us and draw each of us back to You. In Jesus’ name. Amen”
“Lord Jesus, please cleanse us. Amen”