At our first meeting she told me she was a “prayer warrior.” I nodded, not knowing enough about what she meant to even ask a question. An elder on the session at my new call, she’d come to my office before all the boxes had been unpacked to introduce herself and offer her services as said prayer warrior. She invited me to let her know my prayer requests and she and her battalion of fellow warriors would pray fervently and confidently for whatever I asked. I thanked her and thought, “Well, that was weird.”
Periodically, after that first encounter, she would pop into my office and pray, unbidden, that I be protected, strengthened and encouraged. She asked God, “Uphold your servant, whom you have chosen, called and anointed.” When she said, “In Jesus name, amen!” I confess, I felt protected, strengthened and encouraged. This warrior was equipped with the gifts (weapons?!) of the Spirit.
As I grew to know and love her, I began to tell her my worries of the day on whatever day she appeared in my door frame. I would share a frustration with a mission or program or idea I thought needed to come to fruition but was stalled or slow or opposed or unfunded. She would purse her lips, nod her head and say, “Let’s pray.” And did she. She went to town, telling God to surround me with light and send the demons packing. The language and cadence were not part of my Presbyterian pedigree, but I was grateful to be caught up in their wake. Then, before she left my office, she would look intently at me and say: “Remember you are a princess of God! You tell Satan to go back to hell where he came from!” I told her I most certainly would — though I couldn’t imagine being divine royalty, nor being able to give the devil directions.
Eventually, occasionally, I started to do just as my elder prayer warrior instructed. On days when my finger tips were slipping from the end of my rope, when exhaustion enveloped me or doubts of my competence and call ran rampant in my head, I would say aloud (usually in the confines of my car): “I am a princess of God. Satan, go back to hell where you came from!” I would laugh at myself, but felt better even if ridiculous.
I have not uttered those words aloud in a long time, but lately I’ve been tempted to scream them. Not because I feel besieged so much as it appears that the world is beset by demons. I look around and wonder if we don’t need to practice some wholesale exorcisms, casting out greed, cruelty and injustice. Maybe weariness, apathy and willful ignorance, too. I am sure there are at least seven more. As odd as I found my prayer warrior’s language about princesses and Satan, I believe her theology is accurate and I have been naïve to think otherwise.
We are doing nothing less than engaging in a battle against evil, and when we fail to recognize this reality we imagine not much is at stake in our discipleship. Do not get me wrong, I know this conflict is not up to us to win. God’s power, not ours, sends the evil spirits into the swine, and yet, Jesus gives his followers the authority to cast out all demons and we ought to take that commissioning seriously.
As we go about our preaching and teaching, our mission and advocacy, our agitating and disrupting, our serving and praying, we should not forget that the Spirit goes with us and Jesus has given us the power and admonishment to fell evil, to send Satan back to hell where he came from, as it were. Remembering the royal priesthood we are called to be and the cosmic commission Jesus gives us keeps us from ever imagining that setting the world right is up to us — while we simultaneously proclaim the truth that God won’t relent until everyone is clothed, whole and restored to community. That’s a vision worth fighting for, my regal siblings, and you can tell Satan where to go when the demons get in your way.
Grace and peace,