GlobalView from Bishop Bill Atwood
The internet age is fascinating. Of course there is the dark, down side of things (but I avoid that by using care in “clicking”!), but there are lots of “features” that were not available to everyday people even a decade ago. I’ve just returned from traveling in Asia, Africa, and Australia. While I was in Sydney, waiting for a church service to start I got the notification that the alarm had triggered at our office. So, Sunday morning in Sydney was Saturday afternoon in Frisco, TX (near Dallas).
Someone broke into the office. Here are some souvenir photos of the perpetrator (pulled from High Definition Video).
If you look at the time-stamps on the upper left corner of the photos, you can see that the whole intrusion lasted only 34 or 35 seconds.
A close up of the burglar as he was entering shows that his face is covered, he had a “hoodie” sweatshirt, and was wearing gloves.
Probably not the first day of crime for him.
It was distressing, but also fascinating to be instantly notified electronically of the break-in. Of course, there is not much that I could do from 8578 miles away!
Sadly, there was a mix-up and the police were dispatched to the wrong building. In addition, because our (almost always wonderful) insurance agent failed to send a copy of the police alarm registration, the insurance company says that our insurance policy is not in force to replace the computer. Grrrrr.
It’s not hard to see that there is evil afoot in this. The timing was exquisitely bad, and the compounded errors almost too.
Some people think that there is a demon under every rock. That’s ridiculous. There are many more than that. 🙂 That notwithstanding, I am convinced that the whole event was one of protection. Even though this was in the afternoon right in broad daylight, neither staff or volunteers were at the office. One could posit that had they been there, it might have deterred the thief, but since this was obviously someone who was premeditated and disguised, he might have been violent to anyone there. Another wonderful thing: all the records of the computer are kept on the internet “cloud,” so we have not lost any data. With the computer password protected, it is not likely that he will be able to get to things that might also be on the computer itself, but just to be safe, we are changing all the access protocols anyway. Bottom line, no one was hurt, and no data was lost. I would certainly rather not have to deal with this, but I believe the damage was mitigated by intercessory prayer.
Nevertheless, over the next season, I’m going to be putting some significant energy into re-thinking spiritual warfare prayers, both strategy and specifics concerning how to pray.
What, spiritually speaking, is going on? The meetings I had on this last trip will have huge impact on mission and evangelism in several countries. In addition, there was progress seeing groups that have not been working together, coming together. The synergy and unity are tremendously important. They are part of the highest priorities Jesus talked about as His earthly ministry was drawing to a close.
The following is a protection prayer that Francis and Judith MacNutt developed to pray for protection. My wife Susan and I just call it “The Protection Prayer.” We regularly pray it when I’m traveling, but have not prayed it every day. Interesting that this break-in happened on one of the days we had not prayed the Protection Prayer. Now, I don’t think the prayer is magical or something like a spell that is cast for good, but I do believe it covers a lot of ground that I suspect was crafted after lots of mistakes and miscues over a lot of years.
Francis and Judith McNutt Daily Prayer of Protection
In the name of Jesus Christ and by the power of His cross and Blood, we bind up the power of any evil spirits and command them not to block our prayers. We bind up the powers of earth, air, water, fire, the netherworld and the satanic forces of nature.
We break any curses, hexes, or spells sent against us, and declare them null and void. We break all assignments of any evil spirits sent against us, and send them to Jesus to deal with them as He will. Lord, we ask you to bless our enemies by sending your Holy Spirit to lead them to repentance and conversion.
Furthermore, we bind all the interaction and communication in the world of evil spirits as it affects us and our ministry.
We ask for the protection of the shed blood of Jesus Christ over _____________ (our families, and all those we hold dear, our homes, cars, pets, jobs, churches). We pray for protection from accidents, sickness, and harm.
Thank you Lord for your protection, and send your angels, especially St. Michael the Archangel to help us in the battle. We ask you to guide us in our prayers: share with us Your Spirit’s power and compassion.
I’m not silly enough to think that there is spiritual “magic” involved and that if we pray this particular prayer that no ill can befall us. St. Paul says:
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
For sake of our conversation today, the word that stands out for me is that we “wrestle.” The point is that even though the victory of the Resurrected Jesus is complete, perfect, and total, we still live in a place where we are working and praying for the victory to be manifest in our lives. It is one of the many paradoxes of the Kingdom of God, that the Kingdom of God is coming (when we are in heaven or Jesus returns), but it is also here right now. We are charged with working and praying for God’s Kingdom to come and for His will to be done as it is in heaven, but it is not easy. It is a wrestling match!
All across the world, including where you, dear reader, find yourself, we live in the midst of circumstances that are both temporal and spiritual. We know we have struggles, but we are also embroiled in a tremendous spiritual war in which the devil seeks to keep us from manifesting the Kingdom of God and inhibit us from sharing the Gospel. Many people don’t see the war dimension. In fact, one of my friends says, “Before I knew that there was a spiritual war going on, I was already a P.O.W.!”
Events that clearly have the aroma of brimstone like violence or robbery have a spiritual dimension. We can mitigate—or even interdict the devil’s plan to do ill—by praying, but we may not be very effective in that battle. As we get better at praying in warfare, we will see more and more victories. I am interested to see if we can find ways to push back the intrusions of evil and learn new ways of praying that are more effective. For the time being, I’ll be praying Francis’ prayer above, searching the Scriptures for insights, looking into more resources on Spiritual Warfare, and seeing how much more effective our battling can be. It is reassuring that we experienced some protection this weekend in the break-in, but I wonder how victorious we can be when we live in this fallen world. My conviction is that we can be much more faithful and much more victorious. It will be fascinating to pursue that and see what happens.
Bishop Bill Atwood is Bishop of the ACNA International Diocese and an American Anglican Council contributing author.