How your prayers can Destroy generational Strongholds
We all know we can inherit our mother’s
eyes, our father’s nose, or the color of our grandmother’s hair. But did
you know that we can pick up character qualities from our parents, such
as a bad temper, a propensity for lying, depression, self-pity, envy,
unforgiveness, perfectionism and pride? These and other characteristics
that have a spiritual root can be passed along from our parents to us,
and from us to our children. In a particular family there may be a
tendency toward such things as divorce, infidelity, alcoholism,
addiction, suicides or depression all mistakenly accepted as “the way I
The Bible talks about the influence our
parents can have on us. It says God will visit “the iniquities of the
fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those
who hate Me” (Ex. 20:5). This Scripture is referring to people who don’t
walk in a loving relationship with God. However, a parent who is a
believer and loves God can still choose to sin. And his sin will
profoundly affect his children.
The Bible says “if anyone is in Christ,
he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things
have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17). That doesn’t mean that when we receive
Jesus we are suddenly perfect and incapable of sinning. It means we have
been freed from the consequences of sin, which is death, and we have
been given the power to resist it. But we must make choices every day
about whether we will live in that freedom and power or not.
The Bible also says, “Stand fast
therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be
entangled again with a yoke of bondage” (Gal. 5:1). If it is not
possible as a believer to become entangled again with a yoke of bondage,
why does the Bible warn us about it? The answer is, even though Jesus
set us free from sin we can still make choices that put us back into
bondage to it.
The point is, sometimes we accept certain
tendencies toward sin in ourselves and we don’t have to. Sometimes we
carry on a family tradition that we shouldn’t and it affects our
children. Unlike physical traits, tendencies toward sin are something we
don’t have to receive as an inheritance from our parents. That’s
because these tendencies are nothing more than the unquestioned
acceptance of a firmly entrenched lie of the enemy. He wants us to
believe that we are not a new creation in Christ and that we have not
been set free from our old nature. He wants us to think that because dad
or grandpa drank too much, or was a complainer, or cheated on his wife,
or abused his family with his anger, or got divorced, or was dishonest
in his business dealings, that’s the way things are done in our family.
But we can choose to break away from these old familial habits through
prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit. And when we see things we don’t
like about ourselves reflected in our children, we can pray for them to
be set free of that tendency as well.
“If God through His mercy has saved us,
and the Holy Spirit has washed and renewed us, and we are justified by
grace, then why am I still struggling with sin?” I asked my Christian
counselor many years ago.
“It’s because the sin is either unconfessed, or you are choosing to continue to do it,” he answered.
“But I still have unforgiveness for
various family members for things that have happened in the past,” I
said. “I’ve reconfessed it. I don’t want to do it. Why can’t I get
“Your mother was an unforgiving person, wasn’t she?” he said.
“Very much so. She had unforgiveness for
nearly every family member. That’s why she distanced herself from most
of them. She had few friends for the same reason—she pushed them away
with her unforgiveness for the most minor infractions.”
“Have you ever thought of the possibility
that you could have acquired that tendency toward unforgiveness in your
personality? Children pick up what their parents are,” he suggested.
I’d never thought about the possibility
of there being anything outside my own mind that was propelling me to
stay locked in unforgiveness, but the more I thought about it, the more I
remembered seeing that trait manifest seriously in other family
members. Nearly every family has to deal with that at some point, but
most get beyond it without allowing it to cause a major breach in the
“I know this doesn’t relieve me of my responsibility to forgives, but I do see a pattern of this in my family,” I said.
“And what frightens me most is that it
could happen in my own children. I see them now hanging on to
unforgiveness toward one another for things that have happened. It would
break my heart to think that after they’ve grown and left our house, or
after my husband and I have gone to be with the Lord, they would have
nothing to do with one another. I can see that I have to get free of
this for them as well as for myself.”
The counselor and I prayed that day that
the sin of unforgiveness in my family would not be passed down from
generation to generation, but would be stopped by the power of the Holy
Spirit. I proclaimed the truth of God’s Word, which says I am a new
creation in Christ and I don’t have to live according to the habits and
sins of the past. Through that revelation, I resolved to confess
unforgiveness the moment it appeared—even if that meant doing it on an
The more I have released unforgiveness
through confession, repentance and prayer before God, the more I have
seen my children become free of it too. And their relationship with one
another has improved. Of course, my children’s ability to forgive does
not rely on me. It is their decision. But hopefully they will see
forgiveness being modeled in a clear-enough manner as to make their
decision to forgive easier.
A good way to see a negative trait broken
in your child is to see it broken in you first. The best place to start
is to identify any sin in your life. Wherever there is sin, you need to
confess it. If that sin is given place time and again, it will become
more and more entrenched. For example, a lie is a sin. By repeated
lying, place is given for this trait to become entrenched, and soon
lying gets out of control. Another example is wanting to die. This is a
sin. When people say “I want to die” enough times, they can get to the
point where they are plagued by suicidal thoughts.
If you see a place in your life where you
have sinned or not lived God’s way, repent of it immediately by going
before the Lord and confessing it. Ask for God’s forgiveness and say,
“God, You be in control and help me not to live like that anymore.”
Then identify any sin in your parents and
grandparents that you feel could be affecting you or your children and
pray about that also. The Bible says, “The Spirit Himself bears witness
with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then
heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:16-17). We want
to be heirs of God, not of our family’s sin.
In Jesus’ name we can be set free from
any family pattern of sin, and by the power of the Holy Spirit we can
refuse to allow it any place in our children’s life. If you can think of
any family traits you don’t want your children to inherit, start
Stormie Omartian is the best-selling author of The Power of a Praying series, including The Power of a Praying Parent, from which this article was adapted. Copyright © 2007 by Stormie Omartian. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR. Used by permission.
A Prayer for Your Children
Lord, You have said in Your Word that a
good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children (Prov. 13:22).
I pray that the inheritance I leave to my children will be the rewards
of a godly life and a clean heart before You. To make sure that happens,
I ask that wherever there is a sinful trait in me that I have acquired
from my family, deliver me from it now in the name of Jesus. I confess
my sins to You. I ask for forgiveness and restoration, knowing Your Word
says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us
our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). I know
that cleansing from sin through confession lessens the possibility of
passing the habit of sin on to my child.
Jesus said, “I give you the authority
… over all the power of the enemy” (Luke 10:19). If there is any work
of the enemy in my past that seeks to encroach upon the life of my
child, [name of child], I break it now by the power and authority given
me in Jesus Christ. I pray specifically about [name something you see in
yourself or your family that you don’t want passed on to your child].
Whatever is not Your will for our lives, I reject as sin.
Thank You, Jesus, that You came to set
us free from the past. We refuse to live bound by it. Thank You, Father,
that You have “qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the
saints in the light” (Col. 1:12). I pray that my son [daughter] will not
inherit any sin trait from his [her] earthly family, but will “inherit
the kingdom prepared for him [her] from the foundation of the world”
(Matt. 25:34). Thank You, Jesus, that in You the old has passed away and
all things are new.
Weapons of Warfare
God’s Word is our most effective weapon to demolish familial strongholds. In faith, claim these verses over you and your family.
be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His
abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the
resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance
incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in
heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for
salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. —1 Peter 1:3-5
Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to
preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the
brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of
the prison to those who are bound. —Isaiah 61:1
- Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. —2 Corinthians 5:17
- For we
ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving
various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and
hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior
toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done,
but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of
regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us
abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified
by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal
life. —Titus 3:3-7