“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:10 NKJV).

One doesn’t typically wake up on a Wednesday expecting the extraordinary of a near-death experience. Not for themselves, nor for someone they love.

The morning of the shooting began like most others, with coffee and some quiet time.

The clock struck seven, and the rush to get out the door ensued, with me barking orders at our teenage, not time-conscious, daughter, tripping over dogs waiting for their breakfast.

Most days, it’s when we’re in the car I finally breathe a sigh of relief—unless, of course, we’re late, which we weren’t that day, the day of the close call.

 As is typical, my daughter Allie and I talked a bit about her upcoming school day. Then, feeling she’d sufficiently enlightened me, she popped in Airpods and bobbed her head, keeping time with her county tunes. I, too, turned on music, though I chose a praise and worship set, adding my voice to Brandon Lake and Jenn Johnson.

It wasn’t until we made the turn from Dellwood to Dayton that I nudged my daughter.

“Let’s pray.”

Hitting pause, Allie closed her eyes. Though mine remained fixed on the road ahead, my heart was turned toward our Father.

Now, I don’t pray the exact words every day, but my petitions usually cover the same bases—lifting up Allie and her classmates, the teachers and administrators, asking God to set His angels at the doors and windows of the school. Sometimes I’ll break from routine, adding in a particular, like a known need of a friend or loved one. At any rate, our school morning in-the-car prayers are, most days, close to cookie-cutter.

But not on this day.

On this day, I found myself praying something that, while not infrequently prayed on my own, isn’t often included as Allie and I pull in the high school parking lot.

 “And Father, please cover each of our children with Your full armor. The helmet of salvation. The breastplate of righteousness. The belt of truth. The shoes of the gospel of peace. And may they take up their shields of faith, holding out their swords of the Spirit, to fight the enemy who desires to rob, kill, and destroy. Amen.”

That’s what I prayed that morning.

Later, I attended a regular monthly writers meeting. When it came my time to share, I read something I’d written but, not typical for me, got choked on my words.

“Why am I so weepy?” I cried to a gathering of twelve tender hearts. “I’m just feeling a bit emotional today, but I don’t know the reason.”

It was nearing three, and I had to excuse myself to pick up Allie. Our leader closed in prayer, including me in her petitions to the Lord, asking Him to be near me, to comfort me.

After getting my daughter, we ran a quick errand, then headed home. On our way, a law enforcement vehicle passed in the opposite direction, sirens screaming, lights flashing.

“I wonder where he’s going. Must be some emergency.”

A tinge of unease stirred, and once again, I breathed a prayer for the situation. “God, You know just what’s going on. Be with anyone in harm’s way. Protect and provide, as only You can.”

We arrived home at four o’clock, and I was unusually tired. “Allie, I’m going upstairs to rest for a few minutes.”

Busy watching her favorite after-school show, she didn’t even glance from the television. “Okay, Momma. Love you.”

I had just drifted to sleep when I heard our back door open, then close. Muffled conversation indicated my daughter-in-law had walked over from next door, though I couldn’t decipher what was said.

Suddenly, I heard footsteps on the stairs and the bedroom door opened. I sat upright as she stepped in.

“I’m… I’m sorry to bother you but—” Her voice broke and she began to cry. “I… I can’t get ahold of Ian… There’s been a shooting… Just got a call from a friend… It was in the vicinity where he was…”

She held her face in her hands.

“Oh no. Come sit down.”

My daughter-in-law climbed onto the bed beside me. “I’m scared.”

Wrapping my arms around her, I said the only thing I knew to say. “Let’s pray—

“Dear Jesus, You are our Good Shepherd. You are our protector. Our friend. You know just what’s going on. Know each and every detail, even though we don’t. Please be with Ian. Be with his partner. Be with the shooter or shooters and with anyone else in harm’s way. Give us peace. Calm our fears and bring answers, we pray. Amen.”

My daughter-in-law leaned in and rested on me. “Thank you.” She sniffed, and I handed her a tissue. “I guess all we can do is wait.”

And that’s what we did—waited by the phone, watching the local news as reporters told of a stand-off between law enforcement and a gunman in our community. He’d shot at two officers, then barricaded himself in his parents’ home.

Finally, after several hours, we received word. Though they’d been shot at, Ian and his partner were safe and only our son’s police car was damaged. His cell phone had been in his vehicle, which was impounded. Thus, he’d had no immediate way of communicating with his family.

Later, when more details were shared, we knew how close that call had been. We understood the near-death experience our son had faced. But—we knew something else.

We knew the power of prayer was present in this situation—altering the course of the enemy, thwarting the plans of the perpetrator.

Though shaken from this incident six months ago, Ian’s made huge strides as he’s sought therapy, and he’s healing from this traumatic event. He even stated recently, “I’d really like to talk to the man who shot at us. Tell him I’m okay. That I forgive him.”

Maybe he’ll get that chance one day. At the very least, we know prayer can change this troubled man also, and so we’re convicted to lift him up—asking God to work mightily in his life, to make something beautiful from his brokenness.

After all, we believe nothing’s impossible in prayer as we walk, day by day. Sometimes it’s the ordinary and other days, the not-so-ordinary, but always an adventure when God walks with us—

Protecting us with His full armor. So be it.

Kind Father, thank You for Your full armor and for allowing us to appropriate it in our lives. Thank You for Your protection. Finally, thank You for prompting us to know how and what to pray. What a difference prayer makes. Amen.

Think About:

  • Praying God’s Word (which is holding out our swords of the Spirit) is a powerful weapon. What’s a favorite passage of scripture you pray?
  • Have your prayers ever surprised you and you’ve learned later why you prayed what you did?
  • Apart from your family, are there particular groups of people for whom you pray—like law enforcement officers, other first responders, medical personnel, or teachers? Perhaps pick one group a month and pray for them, using a specific passage of scripture.

***(This appeared first in the spring edition of Lighthouse Bible Studies online magazine Refresh.)***