Spiritual Warfare 101: prayers of protection
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!
Thank you for such a wonderful prayer! I notice a BIG difference between days I start with prayer and days I don’t. We’ve been talking about starting off as a family before everyone runs off on their way for the day, and this is a great prayer that you placed squarely in my lap 🙂 Absolutely, the devil is real and the biggest success he’s had is in convincing people he does not exist; scripture even tells us that. Because once we think there’s no “real” evil other than objectively (or subjectively) “bad” people, then isn’t it much easier to think God doesn’t exist? It helps to cement moral relativism and presume that the only real realm is the natural whereas there’s a huge, constant supernatural battle being waged. And when we put the world’s ills in that context, it all makes a lot more sense, doesn’t it? Spot on, Jenny! Keep it up 🙂 We can all look crazy together to this world; but perhaps soon enough people may see we’re not so crazy after all.
Absolutely agree. We pray many deliverance prayers and started specifically praying to have any evil spirits bound and cast out in Christ’s name. As lunatic as it sounds, these things are real so it’s best to acknowledge that fact. We have started slipping in our daily routine and see a difference as well. Time to get back on it. Blessing to you and your family.
In the prayer, should “Strop” them of all weapons not be “Strip” or “Rid”
Kids, especially boys, but some girls, too, are fascinated by the concept of warfare. When I was a kid (we’re talking the 1960s here), catechism classes were always taught from that concept. We were at war with Satan, at all times, and were taught how to wage that war. Today’s “kumbaya” approach is driving kids away in droves. I’ve met priests who actively discourage the spiritual warfare approach; we had one pastor who actually forbade our choirmaster to have us sing things like “Onward, Christian Soldiers” or “An Army of Youth” at Confirmation, because they were “too martial” – only to have the Bishop deliver a sermon on how the new confirmands were entering a battlefield. (I remember our choirmaster struggling to stifle a laugh at that point.)
I would say your approach is more likely to keep your kids in the Church as they grow up. Kudos for the countercultural approach!
Another thing a family can do is have their home blessed by a priest. The blessing of a home before you move into it is a good idea. If you didn’t do it then, however, you can still ask a priest to come to your home and bless it.
I agree, Jeanette. And when the request is made extending an offer to include supper is often very welcomed by a priest who has to cook for himself. If not that, then some home baking to take with him.
We say this prayer I found long ago before each meal after the typical, Bless us O Lord, for these thy Gifts….
Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews, protect us from evil. Save us from an untimely death, accident, illness, injury, our bad choices and the bad choices of others.
Wonderful! It is always good to talk to God in the morn and cover all your loved ones with the Precious Blood of Jesus!
Thank you very much for this. What would you consider to be Spiritual Warfare 201 or 301? I know you were using the 101 designation more figuratively, but I wonder if there are other “advanced” practices to combat spiritual warfare in addition to these prayers.
Check out the book Onward Catholic Soldier by John LaBriola. It gets pretty deep on the subject.
Great. Thank you for the response!
Great. Thanks you for the response and suggestion!
This is wonderful! I blessed my children every morning on their way out the door, and when they asked for an extra blessing for a stressful situation. It gave them peace, and me, too! The reminder that God is with you in every matter is a life saver, over and over again.
Further prayers can be found here:
Great talk here by Fr. Ripperger:
Do you know of a prayer that’s more specific to the evening that I could pray over my son at his bedtime? A prayer of blessing and preservation/protection?
Pray Psalm 91 over your loved ones. Satan hates the Word of God! It is more powerful then a two edged sword!
Thank you for talking about this! I think every Christian should read the Screwtape Letters. It is seriously eye-opening. And I really would love to see this addressed more in Confirmation prep. I think maybe people are afraid of talking about this. But we also have to realize how big God is. There is a battle for our souls being waged by Satan, and it’s probably in our best interests to engage in turning our hearts to the holy! I say a St. Michael prayer when I get into bed each night, and I think I’ll add something like this protection prayer to my morning.
Amen, and AMEN!
Jenny, thank you. I always want to thank you for your posts- but I live on a farm with no wifi, so it rarely works! I would love to read more from you on this in the future. It’s super helpful to this brand new Catholic who was brought up to believe that there is no devil.
I’m surprised that no one has mentioned “Spiritual Combat” by Dom Lorenzo Scupoli in this discussion.
Patricia DiNunzio Kulinowski
Just found Mama needs coffee. A real, tangible blessing. I am 75, in pain, and have a spiritual battle about going to Mass every weekend. It is too hot, I live in Phoenix, my hip hurts, it is too far to walk through the parking lot, I just do not feel like going but I go. Old training, what happens to my soul if I do not go, blah, blah, blah. It did occur to me to say “get thee behind me, Satan” and so I did. Once I get inside the doors,
All that negativity goes away and I am glad I made it. Your thoughts touch me right where I live and I bless you for your honesty telling it just like it is.
Following up, Jenny: the above comment on Psalm 91 bumped this back into my inbox. We just moved 800 miles with 2 under 4 and 3rd due at Christmas. I’m now at work (day 2!) and my husband who is currently SAHD started having panic attacks. We’ve been lax about prayer, Rosary, and confession. Yesterday, he tried to say Rosary and he felt attacked! We’re having our home Blessed immediately, along with scapulars we’ve been sitting around staring at for months unworn 🙄 Of course it was no coincidence that this post reappeared, then, and with these home blessings as well as commenter Ann’s suggestion of Psalm 91 and the book suggestions. We knew it before and certainly there can be practical causes to feeling panic attacks or stress, but it goes to show the danger of separating ourselves even unintentionally from God for a time! The devil knows when and where to attack; as the St. Michael prayer goes, his demons really do prowl seeking the ruin of souls! Thanks again for this post and starting such an important conversation! You’ll never know when you need these resources so it’s good to have them at hand and use them with regularity.
We are in the greatest spiritual warfare and destitution in all of human history. It is the root cause and source of all that is going wrong in the world: wars, divorces, church scandals, abortions, bad leadership, coruption, financial scandals, drug and alcohol abuse, etc. Most people and church leaders do not know this, and that causes destruction. Christians wake up, look out and pray…