Before our biggest little people scurry out the door on school mornings, there is a prayer we gather to pray as a family apart from the morning offering and the basic “love you, be safe.” We started doing some version of this about a year ago, praying specifically and intentionally for protection from harm – be it physical, spiritual, or emotional – over each other and over the kids at the beginning of each day. Some days we drop the ball, other days one of us might remember later in the morning and a quick phone call will accomplish the feat. But we have noticed a significant difference between the days we pray this way and the days we don’t.
A few things before I get deeper into this. First, praying this way is not magical. Asking God to protect you from accidents, injuries, curses, etc. is not like waving a verbal wand over the 12 hour expanse of day stretched out ahead of you and rendering it “safe.” These prayers focus on staying in the safest place possible: the center of God’s will. And His will is mysterious, sometimes more so than others. So we pray this way with clear eyes and the expectation that God will hear our prayer and apply our petitions in the ways that will accomplish our greatest good, from His perspective.
So we pray with faith, sometimes more distracted than other times, but always with the expectation that as long as we are seeking God’s will and really trying to live it, He is going to do His part for our greatest good and for His greatest glory.
Acknowledging that sometimes God’s plans look nothing like ours, and can even be excruciatingly painful at times, when experienced in a vacuum, has helped me to let go of the magical thinking that goes something like “Well, I asked God for this and I was really specific with Him, and He didn’t deliver. Guess He doesn’t care/isn’t there/isn’t omnipotent.” (Maybe you’re holier than me, or more well-formed, and you never think that way. But just in case there are any other mediocre Christians out there reading this, I thought I’d include it as a pertinent detail.)
I also wrestled a bit with the idea that we would be giving the enemy – satan, you know the guy – too much credibility by praying in a way that was overtly acknowledging his existence and specifically rejecting him. Like, would that make our kids nuts? Do they need to hear us engaging in verbal warfare with an unseen force for evil who is actively seeking to harm them and disrupt their path to holiness?
Then I thought about the renewal of baptism prayer and the St. Michael prayer, and I got over myself. After all, one of satan’s most effective weapons in the modern age is that while the culture is utterly fascinated with witchcraft, dark magic, occult practices and gnosticism, many Christians – can I go so far as to say most? – are ashamed to admit any belief in a person who is evil incarnate and who works tireless for our eternal damnation. LOL JOKE’S ON THEM, he’s got to be thinking.
CS Lewis said as much in The Screwtape Letters, cackling deliciously as Uncle Screwtape over the coup of the century, to hoodwink the world into an oblivious skepticism of real evil, dismissible as fairy tales and ghost stories and utterly not serious and not suitable for contemplation by intelligent people with rational minds. Brilliant strategy, as these things go.
And we now have two big problems on our hands: First, an inability to trust that God has our best interests at heart (isn’t that the oldest one on the books?) and second, a disbelief – or at least a hearty skepticism – that there is anyOne out there who is truly our enemy, and who is actively seeking to destroy us.
It’s a pretty effective recipe for disaster.
Enter the protection prayers, which I consider spiritual warfare 101. After all, the first step is admitting that we have a problem. And Houston, we have a problem. The culture is in full on meltdown mode, and as parents, we’re tasked with doing our best to navigate the waters we dwell in and get these kids home safe, taking as many other people as possible with us.
So, as a first step into this perhaps unfamiliar realm, may I recommend starting your day with a simple prayer of protection.
We have two versions we’ve used. We like this shorter version a priest friend shared with us best, and I think it’s pretty all-encompassing. We printed it out and taped it to our fridge where we would see it every day, and it has proven to be a convenient mechanism for reminding us to actually do it. I suggest you do the same with your spouse and kids, if they’re old enough to read along and pay attention. Some days I’ll pray it again if I’m feeling particularly besieged by what feels like demonic interference, or if I realize we’d forgotten to do it that morning.
Spiritual Protection of the Home
Dear Lord Jesus, please surround me (my family/friends/home) with a perimeter of Your Love and Protection throughout the day today and every day a hundred yards in all directions.
Lord Jesus, render any demons that are here, or should try to come, deaf, dumb, and blind. Strop them of all weapons, illusions, armor, power, and authority. Disable them from communicating or interacting in any way. Bind, sever, and separate them, sending them directly to the foot of Your Cross, without manifestation or harm, to us or to anyone, to be dealt with by you Jesus as you see fit.
May Your Precious Blood cover us, the Holy Spirit fill us, Mary’s mantle of love and protection surround us, St. Joseph guide us, the Holy Angels and Saints guard and protect us from all unfortunate events. Protect us from fire, theft, vandalism, flood, storms, ailments and accidents of every sort, distress, hardship, curse, and all untoward things. I ask this all in your Name Jesus, through Mary’s intercession, now. Amen!
Bottom line? This stuff is real. And even though it marks you out as crazy cakes to start talking about it, it’s even crazier to pretend it isn’t happening.
We are spiritual beings as well as flesh and blood, and as Ephesian 6:12 promises, “We are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
St. Michael, St. Joseph, St. Padre Pio, St. John Paul II, and Mother Mary, pray for us!