How many times have you prayed that prayer? "Keep us safe, God." "Don't let any harm come to us." "Protect us." We've all prayed it. I know I have many, many times. I remember this one time, I was in Haiti leading a group around as we went house to house and prayed over each house. One of the ladies kept praying over every house this prayer, "I pray a hedge of protection over this house and this family. Keep them safe." Now, don't get me wrong, I think it was great. We were praying over houses! I mean, that's pretty awesome in and of itself. But, it kept striking me that these people might get the wrong idea--that if they aren't protected then God doesn't love them or doesn't care. That isn't even close to true--just because we aren't protected doesn't mean God doesn't love us..
Take Paul, or any apostle. They were beaten and persecuted because of what they believed. Not once did they pray for safety, but they always prayed for boldness. How many times have you prayed for boldness over safety? I can probably count on one hand the amount of times I have prayed for boldness but I would need all of my fingers and toes and probably 10 more people to help me count the number of times I have prayed for safety.
In Acts 4, Luke says, "And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus." Luke is relaying how believers are praying in the midst of harm and trials. They pray for boldness. Don't you think that means something--that in the midst of trials they pray for boldness over safety?
I really got to thinking about this a lot lately. I often pray for safety. For those of you that don't know, I frequently have nightmares almost every night. This may just be a coincidence, but they really started happening when I decided to follow God with all of my heart. I decided that nothing was going to hold me back, and the nightmares began. At first, it was hard for me. I was terrified to sleep at night. I wouldn't turn my light off. I'd sleep with KLOVE on in the background just to give me some sort of peace of mind. Nothing worked. They kept coming. Sometimes in floods (more than one per night) and sometimes, I would get a break and I wouldn't have a nightmare one night. So, I started getting into this habit of praying for protection. It helped, but I never was able to overcome the struggle and the fear the nightmares brought with them. But then, I came upon the passage where we ought to pray for boldness. So, I started praying for boldness. I started really asking God to not just protect me, but to help me overcome my nightmares and to not fear them. It was a process. It still is a process. I hate having nightmares, but I'm not terrified anymore. I became bold.
What is it that you need to become bold about? What are you fearing? Are you scared that if you share your faith with your neighbor, it would create awkward encounters for the next however many years if the conversation didn't go well? Are you afraid that your coworkers won't like you anymore if you decide to take a stand on your faith? What is it? I challenge you to pinpoint the one thing you ask for safety about. Pinpoint the thing that scares you the most and pray about it. Ask God to help you gain boldness not safety because safety doesn't spread the Gospel, boldness does. So go out there. Be bold. Spread the Word. Change the world.