Yesterday in church, in preparation for a sermon on 1 Tim 2:1-7, our congregation confessed WCF 21.3-4. It was all good, until we got to the end, which asserts that prayer is not to be made “for those of whom it may be known that they have sinned the sin unto death.” At this point, my wife and I both looked at each other with a “huh?” expression.
If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that.
ESV footnotes link 1 John 5:16 back to Jer 7:16, 14:11, which in context seem to be fairly standard OT indictments of Israel for idolatrous unfaithfulness.
So what exactly is this sin that puts people beyond praying for? Can anybody name any specific individual that I should not waste my prayers on? Whatever the rule is, would it have precluded the early church from praying for pre-conversion Saul?