Praying With Backsliders
Backsliders require of the altar worker a different approach. For one thing, such persons come to the altar with a general idea of what to expect. However, they often have difficulty accepting God’s forgiveness. Also, they often feel apprehension about how other believers will accept them. The altar worker can help ease the negative effects of these last two items.
I John 1:9 declares, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Jeremiah 3:22 states, “Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings.”
The Bible plainly states that to receive forgiveness from God, whether one approaches for the first time or from a backslidden condition, the requirement for forgiveness is repentance. Indeed, the writer in Psalm 86:5 firmly announces, “For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.” Backsliders can and do find God willing to forgive and restore.
When a backslider comes to the altar, he or she must be given time to repent. As with new people, the amount of time does vary. The controlling factor here is how readily the person accepts God’s forgiveness. As long as the seeker pours out his or her heart without continual repetition, it is good to let them continue to repent.
Sometimes it becomes necessary to stop a backslider and assure him or her of God’s forgiveness. Some have a built-in idea that they must go through a certain amount of penance before God relinquishes in forgiveness. The altar worker needs to assure them that when sincere prayers of repentance go up God’s forgiveness is there.
As a result of the hesitation to accept God’s forgiveness, it may be necessary for the altar worker to encourage the backslider out of a mourning mode and into a praise mode. Rejoice with them as the Power of God touches their spirit. Let them know God has heard their prayers and is ready to renew the Holy Ghost in them. Inform them that God doesn’t want to make it difficult. He is ready to restore them now.
Once the backslider prays back through to the Holy Ghost, the altar worker can help relieve the fears of such persons not being accepted by others. Congratulate them on what has happened. Let them know the church rejoices at their return. When the backslider feels the love of other believers, it assists in helping him or her back to spiritual strength.
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