The Demon Sniffer

Wikipedia Commons Artist Unknown

Wikipedia Commons
Artist Unknown

I met the demon sniffer when we went over to the troubled brother’s house to cast out a demon.  I didn’t know that we were going to have an exorcism.

The associated pastor called me up and invited me to a special prayer meeting for the troubled brother  because of some stuff he was going through.  They thought it best not to let the elders in the church know because the elders didn’t think progressively and probably wouldn’t understand.

While waiting on the sidewalk in front of the troubled brother’s house, the brother in the beach pants filled me in.  He had read some books on spiritual warfare along with some really cool novels so he knew a bit about how all this worked.   The demon world was made up of a highly organized hierarchy where there were rulers of regions and rulers of territories and rulers of principalities leading up to Satan who was at the top.   Each country had demons assigned to it and there were highly trained special forces  demons that were in charge of addictions and lusts and other big sins.

I did not know this.

I’ll catch on, said the brother in the beach pants.  He said that it was because of these highly organized demonic forces that he goes out late at night and walks around the church for hours praying.   He said there is a giant dome sealing us off from heaven and only by persistent punching from the underside with prayer is there a chance that there may be a crack, then possibly a hole broken through so that the light of God’s blessing can have a chance to shine through to us.  God depends on us to do this.

I did not know this.

Now the demon sniffer knows his stuff, said the brother in the beach pants.  It’s amazing.  He has this gift where he can go into a house and see if it is clear or not.  We  bring him in for the big jobs.

The brother in the beach pants stopped talking as we saw the headlights of a large car creep slowly up the street.  It meandered and eased towards the curb, a pair of eyes on the driver’s side of the car just reaching over the dash board.

The engine stopped and the door creaked open.  Slowly and carefully, out stepped a short pudgy man with oily hair, polyester pants, and a wrinkled white shirt.  He held on to the steering wheel as he lowered himself to where his feet could touch the ground.  He pushed the door shut with both hands and waddled up into our midst and all eyes turned to him.

“Isth this whewe the spiwituaw wawefawe pwayew meeting ith?” he asked.

It was.  The demon sniffer had arrived.

We made some terse introductions and chit chat but the time of pleasantries and talk quickly ended.  Work was at hand.

“Wet’s go,” said the demon sniffer and we all walked with determination and trepidation towards the house.

I don’t want to judge a man by his appearance but my mind went back to a pudgy young kid in the high school locker room.  The kid who would get flicked with a towel.  The kid who would get ice dumped down his shorts.  The kid who would receive wedgies from laughing football players.  The kid who got carried against his will to the toilet for a periodic swirlie.

But what would it be like if this kid suddenly had power?  Incredible power.  Power over dominions of regions and territories and principalities?  And what if he had special gifts?  Incredible gifts.  Gifts to see into the far reaching world of the unseen.

We reached the house.

“How’s it look?” asked the associate pastor.

“Nothing thewe. Wait, I thee one ovew thewe. Hmmm.  Wook at him go.”

We broke into two groups.  The associate pastor, the brother in the beach pants, and the demon sniffer would be the main confrontation team that would sweep through the house and then pray over the troubled brother.  The rest of us would provide prayer support.

The thinking is that when the church is not praying, the demons in the unseen world are stronger and have mastery over the good angels.  This breaks forth into the seen world when evil seems to be getting the upper hand.  However, when people are praying, the angels get an unprecedented advantage and begin to prevail over the demons.   Prayer, in effect, is like Popeye’s spinach giving the sailor power to deliver Olive Oil from Brutus.

We weren’t sure what to pray but we began taking turn in intercession.  We prayed for the troubled brother, against the forces of darkness, and whatever other needs came to mind.  The other team swept through the house looking for these elusive creatures and prayed against them.

“Got him! He wath a stubbown one!”

We continued to make spinach.  I don’t recall how long this went on but we prayed and prayed amidst the sweeping, the running, and crashing.

“Dewe he is! Dewe he is!  In the name of Jesus, I webuke you!”

Finally the demon sniffer announced that we were done.  We walked silently out of the house.  The demon sniffer climbed into his car, eased away from the curb and drove off into the night.

“See you Sunday,” we all said to the troubled brother.

“Yeah,” he said, “See you Sunday.”

We all got into our cars and left.

Over the months that followed, the demons returned to the troubled brother.  There were more special prayer meetings, more confrontations, and more cleansing of the house.

Then one day the troubled brother’s therapist changed his schizophrenia medication.  And the troubled brother got better.

My First Prayer Meeting

When I went off to college, I wanted to find a Bible Study.  While my family had mixed religious affiliations, the net sum of the two faiths put me in a family that was essentially secular other than an occasional Christmas eve mass and my father’s annual passover candle.

Perhaps this was God’s trick – to create in me a spiritual thirst that could only be satisfied with the most radical group I could find.  I’ve often wondered if we raised our kids as secular atheists if they would have rebelled against all of our values and became missionaries to Borneo.

My quest led to a Bible study at my community college which led, through misunderstanding, to a book table of an entirely different group which led to a campus prayer meeting.  I was game for just about anything so I showed up.  There were three of us and we went around the group and prayed.  The only problem was that I never prayed in my life except the ones I learned by my on-occasion Catholic mother.

I rather liked the Catholic prayers.  I have memories of being in church and wanting to light a candle and say them.  In a rare time at History Forum_Februaryhome where somehow we prayed (I can’t remember why because we rarely prayed), I recited every prayer I knew – Our Father, Hail Mary, and probably some others I don’t remember.  My parents smiled approvingly because back in the 1960’s it was fashionable and good to like Christianity even if you weren’t practicing.  However, I was partially just showing off.

I never actually prayed impromptu as in “Let me take a moment from the regularly scheduled programming to say a few words from the heart” – that kind of prayer.  When it came my turn, I stumbled haplessly into what turned out to be an Evangelical prayer staple – I gave a weather and nature report.  I thanked God for the sun and moon and perhaps the plants.  I may have prayed for world peace.  I have no idea.

When we were done, one of the three, with a full hippie beard said, “Praise the Lord, Brother” and gave me a full bear hug.  I stood in a “what just happened here?” daze not realizing that the Jesus movement had fewer inhibitions – it was all about love.

Though I am still not a hugger, I did learn how to pray.  I can make up a prayer like the best of them – quote scriptures, work a prayer list, pray a mini-sermon so God ascertains the doctrine behind what I’m asking, and I can even lead with a weather report.  I have a few memorized prayers tucked aside.  And I can even do silence.

Nevertheless, after almost forty years, I still don’t understand prayer.  Not really.  I’ve given up trying to figure out the cause and effect.  I’m really not sure if my day will be better or worse if I pray or don’t pray.  I’m a bit doubtful that the moral ambiguities of culture is a direct result of my failure to pray more instead of watching American Idol with my wife (though perhaps the series end is a result of many husbands praying for deliverance).

I think it has something to do with this strange calling I have to something bigger than myself.  Some people figure out that they want to be writers or be successful in business or have babies or make their mark in baseball.  All of these types of things seemed secondary to me – a means to an end.  I have had this attraction to know God, to cultivate the spiritual man, and to touch something eternal.

I have no idea if I am doing it right and, to borrow a phrase from a friend, I may have stumbled upon the “God of my own misunderstanding.”  Nevertheless, I sense in my heart that something is there.  Something drew me to want to light candles, memorize the prayers, and show up at a little three man prayer meeting at a community college when most students were interested in the ski club.  Something stirs me when I am in the midst of muddled confusion to get on my knees and tell a God that is bigger than me that I’m really trying to believe that He has my best interests at heart and that I trust Him to guide and give discernment amidst the challenges of the day.