Banishing evil spirits
Every year in the weeks before Lent, hundreds of men in sheepskin cloaks and elaborate headwear - horned masks, cattle skulls or tall hats - take to the streets of Kastav and neighboring villages in Croatia. The men carry wooden clubs and wear huge, heavy cowbells tied around their waists that clang loudly. Their mission: to drive out evil spirits that may have gathered over the winter months, and to usher in the beginning of spring. These bell ringers, known locally as zvončari, are participating in tradition that dates back centuries and has pagan roots. The bell ringers are the best known participants in the annual Rijeka Carnival. Held on the Sunday before Lent in this Croatian port town near Kastav, the carnival features one of Europe's largest Shrovetide processions - that is, a parade that takes place during the week before Mardi Gras. The carnival attracts more than 100,000 spectators and up to 10,000 participants from nearly 100 groups. Pictured here: the zvončari from the Grobnik area. The zvončari are such a cultural force that in 2009, those from several villages were inscribed on the Unesco list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
1) While these revelers think they are driving out evil spirits, they are actually inviting them to come and have free rain in Croatia. Let us pray that the root of this paganist tradition can be exposed and expelled!
2) These acts of paganism need to be replaced by Praise and Worship to the Most High God, Who can and will drive out evil spirits. He will drive them out at our request. Lord, we ask that You open the eyes of the believers in Croatia so that they rise up and come against these pagan rituals and cleanse the villages where this is practiced.
3) Lord, we ask that You would raise up a worshiping army in Rijeka and all Croatia that will take their authority with boldness and strike down all the evil spirits and principalities that reign freely in Croatia.
Ephesians 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
This Resurrection Sunday I was blessed to be at the Budapest House of Prayer. It was a special event where the nations of Central Europe were called together for two days of Reconciliation. Because many locate Croatia in Central Europe, a Croatian brother, Marko, and I went.
During the sessions there was a time of reconciliation between the nations. The Hungarian and Austrian believers asking forgiveness from the Croatians for all the years the Austro-Hungarian Empire ruled over the Croatian people denying them their own self-governing country. Then Marko, the Croatian, forgave them and the turned toward the Serbs and ask for forgiveness from them for atrocities committed during World War II by the Croats against the Serbs. Forgiveness was accepted from both sides.
Much prayer has gone forth for steps of repentance and forgiveness to be exchanged between the Balkan Nations. Although the hatred is set deep in the hard ground of the Balkans, we see some signs of change!
4) Jesus we pray for true repentance and forgiveness to flow through the Balkan countries! Let it come like a flood with an unstoppable force.
5) Jesus is coming for a spotless Bride. Let us pray for spots that mar the beauty of the Croatian churches to be exposed and cleansed.
6) Last year I was asking the Lord how to pray for the Croatian churches. Two sins were exposed to me: apathy, which is rooted in the orphan spirit and exclusiveness. Let us pray for those characteristics to be replaced by a fire for revival and humility.
7) Let us pray that Croatian Christians would learn to honor each other in the Body of Christ.
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