“A Protecting Presence”

Excerpt from a Talk by Unity Minister Rev. Sandra McKinney


How do we feel protected in times such as we are living today? The Bible offers wonderful, awe-inspiring stories and treasures. The writings of David the shepherd in Psalms, Chapter 91, verses 1 - 11 are often called the Prayer of Protection:

“Whoever dwells in the protection of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress; my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver me from the snare of the fowler and from deadly pestilence. He will cover me with his feathers, and under his wings I shall find refuge; his truth shall be my shield and buckler. I shall not be afraid for the terror by night nor for the arrow that flies by day, nor for the conspiracy that spreads in darkness; nor for the pestilence that wastes at noonday. Thousands shall fall at my side and ten thousand at my right hand but it shall not come near me. Only with my eyes shall I behold the reward of the wicked. For thou, O Lord, art my trust; thou hast established thy habitation in the highest. There shall no evil befall me, neither shall any plague come near my dwelling. For He shall give his angels charge over me to keep me in all my ways.” [NIV]

This Psalm lets us know we have a Protecting Presence in our lives that’s available to us UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES!

To illustrate the image of abiding under the shadow of the Almighty and the idea of taking refuge under His wings comes a true story that appeared a number of years ago in National Geographic magazine.

After a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, forest rangers began their trek up a mountain to assess the inferno's damage. One ranger found a bird literally petrified in ashes, perched on the ground at the base of a tree. Saddened by the eerie sight, he pushed over the bird with a stick. When he moved it, three tiny chicks scurried from under their dead mother's wings. The mother, keenly aware of impending disaster, had carried her offspring to the base of the tree and had gathered them under her wings, instinctively knowing that the toxic smoke would rise. She could have flown to safety but had refused to abandon her babies. When the blaze had arrived and the heat had scorched her small body, the mother had remained steadfast, so her babies could live.

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge.

An important question for us to ask is: How do we get under this shadow of the Almighty—i.e., where are these gigantic wings to protect us? When the heat is really on in our lives, and we feel as if we are walking through fire, is God going to swoop down and cover us with His wings? This image led me to reflect on the fact that Charles and Myrtle Fillmore, co-founders of the Unity movement—used the symbol of large wings.

These images of walking through fire and being covered by God’s wings are, of course, metaphors for a level of consciousness that each one of us, according to David in the 91st Psalm, has the ability to attain. The “secret” to experiencing this Protecting Presence is the awareness that within you is a place of wholeness that nothing can touch! In verse 4, we are told: God’s truth shall be my shield and my buckler (my armor).

So, how do we feel protected when the media announces the escalation of corona virus victims dying each day? How do we feel secure if our employment is impacted or even terminated, or a loved one is dying, or if we are ill? How do we feel that Protecting Presence? Again, we are talking about a level of consciousness. A level of consciousness in which we turn away from the human condition and rest in the spiritual truth; the Truth that God is truly all there is, everywhere present in Its fullness—despite any illusionary evidence to the contrary.

An interesting line appears at verse 8: Only with my eyes shall I behold the reward of the wicked. What does that mean? Only with your physical eyes shall you see adversity, strife and discord. Of course, to refuse to see the manifestations of adversity is to be dishonest with oneself. But only with your eyes shall you see them. With your inner eye, your inner awareness, look to God. We are told in the next verse: “For thou, Oh Lord, art my trust.”

We must hold the “high watch.” We’re reminded by our New Thought philosophy that it’s not the circumstance or difficulty that’s the real problem, but the way we think about it. To remain at peace and maintain the equilibrium needed to face or handle any challenge, we must keep our thought centered on the all-powerful Presence, Power, and Perfection of Spirit. We must call this Presence forth and affirm Its Divine Right Action, trusting It while remaining serene under all conditions and expecting resolution. This requires the shift in awareness and focus of attention that we practice in affirmative prayer—a shift from the difficulty or challenge to faith in the Truth and Power of Spirit.

Of course, in Unity, when we think of a Protecting Presence, we naturally think of the iconic “Prayer for Protection” written by James Dillet Freeman for all soldiers during World War II. Many Unity centers repeat this prayer together every Sunday:

The Light of God surrounds me.

The Love of God enfolds me.

The Power of God protects me.

The Presence of God watches over me.

Wherever I am, God is!


And we know that all is well.