“Lord, keep us all safe today.”
“I pray for a hand of protection over everyone in this room.”
“May we all have a sense of security as we part ways today.”
All of us have heard either these exact prayers or variations of these prayers. They saturate our comfortable, American, churches. They permeate our culture. They dominate our lifestyle. They reflect our hearts.
The question is, “Why have our prayers turned into such shallow, self-centric, other-denying, rituals?” Somewhere along the course of history, they became a version of moral therapeutic deism. Prayer shifted from a focus on the divine God and worshipping Him, to a focus on us and our safety. God has become nothing more than a genie in a bottle that we summon at our discretion, receive the benefits, and send Him on His way when we are finished with Him.
It is because of this that our hearts have grown dull to the cost of discipleship after receiving the call to discipleship. Little do we realize that when Jesus says follow me (the call), He later says (the cost), “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23, CSB).
I once heard a man pray for his family. Whereas most men would pray for protection and health – far too similar to the prosperity gospel than we might want to admit – he prayed for his children to be sent into the darkest and most depraved depths of this world to be the light that disciples are called to be.
So often we pray for safety, shelter, and security in our faith when we should be praying for opportunity after opportunity to share the gospel, despite how safe it is. When Jesus commands us to “go,” He does not give a list of exceptions or stipulations. He says “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19, CSB). He says, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8, CSB). Along with these commands, you do not see the following exceptions:
- If your family will be safe
- If your health won’t be affected
- If the country and people are just like you
- If you don’t have to sacrifice or take risk
- If you feel more comfortable at home
- If you already made plans
The reason you don’t see these exceptions in Scripture is because Christ doesn’t allow the Christian life to have any exceptions or excuses!
Over the course of the past two thousand years, Christianity has taken many turns and shifts, but the core message of the gospel has not changed. The gospel’s call to go to all the nations still stands, despite the implications that may follow.
Take a look at these martyrs for the faith:
- Stephen: Not long after the death of Christ, Acts 7 recounts the first Christian martyr who was stoned after proclaiming the message of the gospel.
- Twelve Disciples: Tradition says that eleven of Jesus’s twelve disciples were brutally martyred for the faith.
- John Huss: Huss was placed under house arrest, tortured, mocked and ridiculed, and eventually burned at the stake for his belief.
- John Wycliffe: Wycliffe’s remains were dug up and burned due to his conviction to get the Bible into the hands of all people.
- Jim Elliot: Elliot and others were murdered by Ecuadorian Indians in an attempt to simply share the message of the gospel. He is remembered for his sacrifice as well as the following quote: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
Christ doesn’t call for protection, but for sacrifice. You can’t sacrifice without cost. You can’t sacrifice without risk. You can’t sacrifice for the faith if you are always praying for and seeking protection! It was through the risk and sacrifice of Jim Elliot that an entire community heard the gospel and were transformed by the blood of Jesus Christ! The fact of the matter is, they would still be unaware of their sin and the salvation of Jesus if Elliot and his fellow servants did not follow the call to share the gospel, despite the cost.
A New Prayer
Instead of the constant prayers for safety and protection, we need more prayers focused toward mission and being sent. We need not ask for and pray for persecution, but we should pray for opportunities to be a light in the darkest depths and depravities of the world.
When is the last time you prayed for a divine appointment or opportunity to share the gospel? When is the last time you prayed to be sent rather than safe? Safety is not the concern of the gospel, security in Christ through salvation is Christ is! Others will not know of salvation without someone to tell them (Romans 10:14–17).
Pray the following:
“Lord, send me into the darkness to be a light.”
“Give me an opportunity to share the gospel today, and open my eyes to see the opportunity when it comes.”
“Soften the heart of those whom I speak with today and guide my conversations toward the gospel.”
I urge you, pray to be sent, not simply to be safe.