Can we “pray a hedge of protection” around our home, church, or city? For many of us, it’s an important question. If there’s anything we understand, it is how much a parent, spouse, or pastor would love to use prayer to create a fence of security around those we love.
I often think of the way Jesus told Peter that he had prayed for his protection. It happened on the night of Jesus’ own betrayal and crucifixion. Peter said he was ready to go to prison and even to death to remain true to his Lord. What Peter didn’t know is that, before he heard the rooster crow, he would deny that he even knew the teacher from Nazareth. Yet it was in anticipation of those moments that Jesus gently warns, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren” (Luke 22:31-32). Jesus had asked the Father to put a limit on what the Devil could do to Peter. I think that may parallel what some of us are asking when we talk about “praying a hedge of protection” around those we love.
But, having said that, the only place I can find a mention of both prayer and a “hedge of protection” together is in the first chapter of the book of Job. There we read about a father who loved his children enough to pray regularly for them. In the same chapter we find Satan saying to God, “”Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land” (Job 1:9-10).
What Satan acknowledges here is that, from his point of view, God is the one who draws the boundaries that demons cannot cross. At the same time, though, I don’t find any indication here that Job was the one who actually “prayed the hedge” that Satan sees around Job and his family.
What we find in the rest of Job’s story is that he is not the one who moves the hedge of protection to a different place. God, for his own purposes, does that. The result is that Job’s experience ends up being similar to that of the “tested Peter”– and also the Apostle Paul who also was not able to pray away the “thorn in his flesh”that he says was a “messenger of Satan.” (2Cor 12:7-9).
So now let’s think about this together. Do you agree with me that there is a reason for caution– if instead of asking God to protect those we are praying for– we think we can “pray a hedge or protection” around them? And, although I want to be careful in how I ask this, could “praying a hedge” (as if prayer is itself a power) be more like belief in “magic” that can be manipulated– than reliance upon God who must be trusted?
I’d like to hear your thoughts on this.