In the children's picture book, "I'm coming to get you!" by Tony Ross, a fearsome monster from outer space is planning an attack on a little boy. As its rocket ship nears Earth, the boy remains ignorant of the menace. Readers shiver with fear for him – until the boy steps outside his front door and walks right past the monster. It turns out that the creature is miniscule, no danger at all.
In real life, "I'm coming to get you!" is a frightening statement, whether you're a child hiding from a bully or an adult fearful of being attacked. Whatever the threat to our peace of mind and safety, prayer offers a time-tested way not only to negate fear, but to neutralize violence. Centuries-old authority for a prayerful offensive against impending danger – and the effect of this prayer – is recorded in lives of biblical figures such as Moses, David, Daniel, Jesus, and Paul.
What does a "prayerful offensive" involve? At least two things: One is a confident recognition of the supremacy and goodness of God. And the other is a firm mental rejection of any thought or situation that runs counter to His divine nature.
These two elements of prayer are interconnected. Affirming God's ever-presence and power exposes the fallacy of un-Godlike motives and acts. Refusing to accept evil strengthens our stand for good. This synergistic action of inspired thought is a one-two punch to fear and its concomitants – confusion, doubt, anxiety, panic, and resignation. And prayer doesn't stop with the healing of our reactions; it pervades the entire mental atmosphere to cancel both random and intentional violence.
The Christian Apostle Paul describes danger-destroying prayer this way: "The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (II Cor. 10:4).
Consider a contemporary example. A staff member at a halfway house for juvenile offenders regularly faced intimidating and hostile actions from the teens he supervised. His daily preparation for work included asserting that no matter what evidence he witnessed to the contrary, God controlled the actions of everyone in the home. Reasoning from the perspective that God created each of His children to be like Him, he was able to view these young people as embodying spiritual qualities such as integrity, generosity, purity, and affection. With this inspired focus, it was a short step to rejecting evidence to the contrary – dishonesty, selfishness, sensuality, and hatred.
One evening his prayers were put to a test. A young resident under the influence of drugs threatened another staff member with a large kitchen knife. This staffer stepped between the two in an attempt to stop the attack. Although the situation was explosive and terrifying, he persisted in seeing the girl as spiritual and Godlike. With prayerful authority, he helped her understand that violence was no part of her divine nature. She relaxed, put down the knife, and apologized.
This man's prayer proved a statement by spiritual thinker Mary Baker Eddy: "Evil thoughts and aims reach no farther and do no more harm than one's belief permits" (p. 234). Both the hostility and the temptation to react fearfully were eradicated in response to his heartfelt, spiritually logical prayer.
In the children's story, a monster is shown to be powerless in spite of its apparent menace. In our daily lives, we can shrink the threat of evil to its essential powerlessness by claiming God's protection and love, and refusing to believe in a power apart from Him. As the Bible asks, "Who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?" (I Pet. 3:13).
The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil. Psalms 121:7