In a law court, the accused stands in danger of punishment. Facing accusation, the defendant might well plead guilty and accept the punishment. Or the defendant could plead innocent and fight the charges. In the course of a trial, sometimes, rather than testify, a person will plead the fifth and exercise their right to remain silent. We hear all these pleadings in a court of law.
In evangelical circles, it is not uncommon to hear another plea. It usually occurs in prayer. The evangelical will plead the blood of the Lamb. It could be a parent praying for their young children, who for the duration of a school day, will be separated from the protection of the parent. The parent must entrust the child’s spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being into the hands of other adults, so in supplication to God, the parent will plead the blood of the Lamb over the child before they depart. It could be someone who just received bad news. It could be a prayer team remembering missionaries on a foreign field. It could be part of a prayer for the healing of a physical illness. In all these cases and more, it is not uncommon for Christians to plead the blood of the Lamb.
What does this practice mean? Is it Biblical? If I were to commend it to you, would you do it?
Pleading the blood of the Lamb means that we are asking God for something highly important to us, and that the basis of our request—the ground upon which we take the privilege to stand before God in the asking—is the person and work of Jesus Christ, which is what we mean by “the blood of the Lamb.” For example, parents departing from their children plead the blood and therein effectively say to God, “Please protect our loved ones while we are apart, and do so on account of Jesus, whose blood removed our sins and any condemnation, and whose life gave us life and an unshakable inheritance, assuring us of Your favorable disposition toward us and Your never-ending protection of our lives.” That is what the parent is really praying, and pleading the blood is a nice easy shorthand way to say all that.
It is not a Biblical prayer—per say—in that the actual wording—this particular shorthand—is not there in the text, but I think it is consistent with the language and theology of the Bible. Romans 8:31-34, in response to the glorious truths of the Golden Chain of Redemption (Romans 8:29-30) reads:
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.”
Notice two things about this passage: the courtroom language and the basis of our vindication, which provides us a favorable standing before God. First, the question is raised as to who would endanger us by charging us with wrongdoing. The image is one of a courtroom. God is the judge. There is a potential accuser, and we are the ones in danger of being accused, condemned, and punished. We might be harmed. We stand in need of protection. That is why we plead. We are in a courtroom, in danger that the Judge of all the earth might deal harshly with our poor guilty souls.
Second, notice the reason why nothing comes of this danger. Notice why we face no danger at all. Our advocate, “if God is for us” (8:31), has already done something that assures His absolutely favorable disposition toward us. He “did not spare His Son”, but gave Him as a bloody sacrifice to atone for our sin. Who could possibly stand up to accuse us? No more charges can be brought because the Judge (who loves us) is already satisfied with the payment our Advocate has made on our behalf. The One who “indeed is interceding for us” is none other than Jesus, and the basis of His intercession is the life He poured out (“life is in the blood” Leviticus 17:11) unto death upon the cross. On the basis of the person and work of Jesus—His life and death, we are absolutely favored by God. That is why we plead the blood.
So, first, the courtroom metaphor of pleading is there in Romans 8:31-34 and the blood of the Lamb is the reason given as to why we know that God “will graciously give us all things.” Pleading the blood is a Biblical thing to do. We plead the blood because it is Biblical shorthand for Romans 8:31-34.
We plead the blood because it means that we trust God to protect our loved ones, and we trust Him on the basis that He proved His love by the giving of the Son to die for us. It is not uncommon to hear me plead the blood, and I encourage you to do the same. Pray this way for your children and for all the elect. Here’s how you can make my day. Come up to me and say that you have been pleading the blood of the Lamb over someone you know. Better yet, go lay your hand on their head, or come to me and extend your hand toward my head and give me the privilege of receiving prayer for my well-being, grounded as it were upon the person and work of Jesus Christ. Plead the blood of the Lamb over me, and I’ll do the same for you. We are a people that once stood in danger of eternal condemnation but now find ourselves completely and eternally safe under the protection of a God who did not spare His own Son. We plead the blood.