On Sunday morning I received word from a friend that a terrorist group called ‘Al-Shabaab’ had posted an online video calling for violent attacks on a variety of shopping centers around the world, including here in Edmonton, at West Edmonton Mall.
My initial response was surprise that Edmonton had been specifically named, however as I thought more about it, I understood that WEM is an internationally known shopping mall, similar to the Mall of America and others. I shared the information about the video with several people within HoPE and also with several pastors in the city, inviting the Christian community in the city to be aware and continue to pray.
One of the clear goals of these kinds of videos being released by different terrorist groups is to create fear in the hearts of many people. Thankfully, the vast majority of Canadians and Edmontonians have not given into the fear campaign that these groups are waging. The likelihood of any kind of attack happening in Edmonton is extremely remote, however, thankfully local authorities are being prudent and taking extra steps to ensure the safety of our city.
I do NOT believe that we should live in fear and I am grateful for the safety of our city, province and nation. However it is also easy to simply dismiss this video because of the very remote possibility of an actual attack happening at WEM or other parts of the capital region. I believe that to dismiss this video would be a mistake, particularly for the Christian community and I would like to offer a few thoughts about why I believe that.
As I wrote in a previous post, we must be mindful of Ephesians 6:10-18, where Paul makes clear that the battles we face in the natural are often based primarily in the spiritual realm, where there is a very real war among the ‘rulers, authorities and powers’ and the ‘spiritual forces of evil’.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.-Ephesians 6:12
Paul also wrote that Christians must be alert to the realities of the schemes and plans of the devil:
for we are not unaware of his schemes -2 Corintians 2:11
Why would we need (or want) to be aware of the schemes of the devil? Why not simply trust in that Satan is a defeated foe and dismiss the activities of demons as irrelevant? The answer is quote obvious, but Paul explains it clearly:
With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints -Ephesians 6:18
I’m not arguing that we necessarily begin to search out demons and strongholds and map out the spiritual powers and forces of evil over the capital region, but I am saying that, as Christians we should recognize that this recent video by Al-Shabaab is clear and rather blunt evidence that there is a spiritual battle going on over the Edmonton region (as there is all over the earth) and that we need to respond by engaging in intercession for our city! We do not need to fear but we do need to be ALERT.
It is more than just a gentle reminder of the importance of prayer. Across the earth, evil is increasing and in response God is raising up the Church to pray and to stand in the gap through intercession.
I looked for a person among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land… -Ezekiel 22:30
The Lord is making it very clear that continual, corporate, unified expressions of prayer and worship are not merely optional; they are essential!
There is a strategic reason why the Lord has called His Church ‘a house of prayer’. We must take our position on the wall and ‘stand on guard’ for our city and nation.