If you are tuning in, expecting the next in the series on Joseph, then don’t worry! I’ve not forgotten! I will return to the series on Joseph later this week (God willing, and Andy co-operating!) For today, I want to circle back to the subject of prayer.
I was praying for someone a little while ago and asked god to “Keep them safe!” It got me thinking about what I actually meant by the phrase. Clearly, I was thinking about their physical safety, but extends to their emotional and spiritual condition as well.
I am obviously asking God to keep this individual from harm, but what do I actually expect God to do in response to my prayer? Perhaps I am asking Him to restrict them from going outside? Surely, being inside closed doors is far safer than going outside? No… I do not think that is what I am asking at all.
So therefore, I must be asking God to keep them in relative safety while they are out and about, and living their daily lives. Living life is not “safe” though, is it? We take risks every single day, even if they are tiny. We take a chance every time we cross the street. If we do not look both ways, then there is a risk of being hit by a car. Taking it to extremes, staying at home may be little safer – people fall down the stairs, slip in the shower, or injure themselves in other ways.
As above, life is simply not safe. And neither, at times, is God’s will.
When we look at how Christians are often treated in this world, and how many of our fellow brothers and sisters are martyred in Christ, we realise that God’s will is not always safe for us. While it may not be the safest place to be, it is always the best place to be.
Given this, perhaps there are times when praying that God will keep someone safe is to pray against His will. Instead of safety, we ought to pray for that person to have strength and wisdom to fulfil God’s call on their lives, or to face the good and the bad that life has to offer.
I want to examine my prayer life closely. I really want to think about the words that I use. When praying for people, I frequently say “Lord, bless them…” but as above, what do I actually mean by this? So often my view of a blessing may be quite different to God’s view. To some, winning the lottery might be a “blessing” but if it leads the person down a path of selfishness, greed and ultimately destruction, then it is no blessing at all.
We can learn much from the prayer that Jesus taught us.
He said to them, “When you pray, say,
‘Our Father in heaven,
may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come.
May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
3 Give us day by day our daily bread.
4 Forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
Bring us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’”Luke 11:2-4 (WEB)
No mention of safety here!
This prayer focusses primarily on God the Father. It seeks first His glory, will and kingdom, not our relative safety or blessing. Of course, it does go on to ask for our daily bread and that is not unimportant. Neither is the request to avoid temptation or to be delivered from evil.
We must allow the Bible to shape our prayer lives. It is not wrong to ask God to keep someone safe, but how much greater a prayer is it to ask God to bring about His will and kingdom in their lives? To ask the Father to deliver them out of temptation’s grasp, or to seek forgiveness for and from them. How much richer and more effective our prayers would be!
When we pray, we do not always see immediate results. In fact, there are times when it seems like our prayers are making no difference whatsoever. I do not suppose we will see the full effect of our prayers on this side of heaven, but one day (in eternity) will look back on the times a person we were praying for avoided temptation or stepped deeper in God’s plan for their lives.
How do you pray? What words do you use? Do share below for my benefit and for others. As iron sharpens iron, we can all learn from one another.
And may I close by saying, “Lord, may Your will be done in the lives of everyone reading this today! Deliver them from evil, and keep them far from temptation. In Jesus’ mighty Name! Amen!”