Taking a page out of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic horror flick, The Birds, a seagull and a crow attacked two doves released by the Vatican on January 26, 2014 before tens of thousands of people in Vatican Square.
Referred to as the Pope’s caravan of peace, two children, a boy and a girl, released the doves as part of the Angelus Prayer. The Pope was calling for peace in the Ukraine where violence has erupted from people protesting the countries growing ties with Russia.
The dove often portrays the Holy Spirit in Scripture and the two were set free from a window in the Vatican as a symbolic gesture of the prayer.
Almost immediately, the two doves were viciously attacked. A seagull assaulted one of the birds, pulling off some feathers. Meanwhile a crow went after the other dove, repeatedly pecking it on the head. Though both doves seemed to escape, onlookers were uncertain what finally happened as the doves flew off with the crow and seagull in pursuit.
In Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 horror movie, The Birds, a large flock made up of different species of birds besieged a community in Northern California. The flock rapidly grew in number and the birds worked in tandem viciously attacking the residents of the town.
Satan can hinder prayers
It’s difficult to know if this attack was some random event or if more sinister forces were at work. Doves released last year by the Vatican were also attacked by a lone seagull.
But the fact these symbolic gestures of prayer were assaulted, does provide an interesting perspective on prayer. We know from Scripture, that Satan can hinder prayer.
In the book of Daniel, we read of the prophet’s encounter with an Angel of God:
Then he (the angel) said to me, ‘Do not be afraid Daniel for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words. But the Prince of the Kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days, then behold Michael one of the chief princes came to help me… (Daniel 10:12-13 NASV)
Three weeks earlier, Daniel sensed a great conflict was brewing (Daniel 10:1-3) and began fasting and praying. God dispatched an Angel to deliver the answer to Daniel’s prayer, but the Prince of Persia hindered this angel.
Two years earlier, Daniel — who was in Babylon as part of Israel’s captivity — was reading scripture when he realized Jeremiah prophesied Israel’s return to their land after a 70 years (Daniel 9:2). This time was at hand and Daniel began to pray about Israel’s promised restoration.
This dramatic confrontation with the Prince of Persia was part of the spiritual conflict associated with Israel’s return.
Who was the Prince of Persia?
It is generally conceded the Prince of Persia was a Satanic being that controlled the Persian empire.
As part of the temptation in the wilderness, Satan offered Jesus complete control over all the kingdoms of the world, if the Lord would worship him (Luke 4:5-6).
Satan adds that he can do this because the nations have “been handed over to me and I give it (control) to whomever I wish.” (Luke 4:6 NASV). Notice how Satan’s claim of ownership of the nations was never challenged by Christ.
The Prince of Persia was simply part of Satan’s administrative structure to spiritually control this particular nation.
Initially, the Prince of Persia stopped the angel from delivering the message. However, as Daniel prayed and fasted about the situation, God dispatched the angel Michael to help.
With this reinforcement, the angel broke through and delivered the answered prayer to Daniel. Having done this, the angel said he would be engaging the Prince of Persia in further battle (Daniel 10:20).
A bit on Michael
Michael is one of two Godly angels cited by name in the Bible, the other being Gabriel (Luke 1:26-27). Daniel 10:13 says Michael is one of the Chiefs or leaders of the Angels in God’s kingdom. Jude calls him an ‘arch-angel’ (Jude 1:9).
Michael is described as the angel who watches over the nation of Israel (Daniel 12:1). He is also listed as the leader of the angelic army that drove Satan and his minions out of heaven (Revelation 12:7).
Adding power to your prayers
Though Satan was initially able to hinder prayers, it is equally true God has given Christians power to over come this. It is no coincidence that Daniel’s 21 days of prayer and fasting (Daniel 10:1-3) coincided with the 21 days the Prince of Persia was initially able to stop the delivery of answered prayer (Daniel 10:12-13).
It was Daniel’s persistent prayer empowered by his fasting that brought the break through in the spiritual conflict.