I first saw the above picture on Facebook and then again across google. To an average reader, this probably sounds like a great, loving, and unselfish prayer that a parent might pray over their children. We could probably find a copy of this prayer in a “Your Best Life Now,” type book or “Promises For Your Everyday Life,” daily devotional.
I have a son myself.
I pray that God protects him, keeps him healthy, I ask God to draw him near to Himself, that he chooses to follow Christ, that he impacts this world for The Lord as he gets older, and that he learns to trust God in all things.
However, more than wealth, more than physical health, and even more than his safety, I pray that Landen loves Christ and comes to have a personal relationship with Him. Without that; without salvation, nothing else matters.
This is demonstrated in the psalms:
1 Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth! 2 I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, 3 things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. 4 We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. 5 He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, 6 that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, 7 so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments;
This is right in line with the Proverbs 22:6 admonishment…to train up a child in the way he should go.
Also, Ephesians 6:4
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
First and foremost, I pray my son loves Jesus and desires to become more and more like Christ; that he Live’s Love to this fallen world.
You cannot, as a God fearing parent, truly pray for all of the other stuff effectively, if your child is lacking the first part of the equation. Like a mathematical problem, if you get the first step wrong, the rest of your answer will be incorrect, no matter what you try.
I feel sorry for the children out there whose parents miss this. Parents that simply want their children to be safe are missing the bigger picture God has for us in this life. Jesus told his Apostles to give up their stuff, leave it behind, and follow Him. That’s not safe. He also said in Mark, we have to lose our lives; we have to let go of our earthly lives in order to find eternal life in Him.
When is the last time you heard someone speak about losing their life and then talk about being safe in the same sentence?
Paul was beaten several times, wrongfully thrown in jail more than once, and was eventually martyred for his faith.
Paul put it best though when he said, “Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.”
In other words, if I am to be killed, but it means you get saved; you come to Christ, then for me, that is a sweet death. Wow. You look back at all of the men and women of the bible that were used by God to do great things and tell me how many of them lived safe, healthy, lavish, lives.
There was a missionary by the name of John Paton that,
many years ago, decided God was calling him to witness to the New Hebrides. During his research however, John found out something disturbing…this island was inhabited by a tribe of cannibals. But, he said, well Lord if that’s the way you want me to go, I’ll go. So he packed up his little wife, whom he’d only been married a few months, got in a boat, and off they went. The ship however, would only let him off 200 yards from shore. The captain Wouldn’t even go near the place and so John and his wife rowed the rest of the way into this island. Now what do you do when you arrive at an island full of man eating cannibals? Nobody’s ever been there that hasn’t been invited to lunch and never come back. What do you do?
You stick up a sign and say VBS starts on Sunday night? How do you approach that? You don’t even know the language. You haven’t even contacted a single human being on the island and you’re really not too eager to just walk into their village because you’re likely to end up in a bugs bunny like cartoon situation, where you think you’re on your way to jump into a hot tub and all the while, the host is cutting up carrots and potatoes and tossing them in with you. It’s bad enough for some people, just to go up to somebody that’s going to be friendly that you don’t know, and talk about Christ.
Well, in his biography, John’s brother was writing, he recorded that they built a little hut on the beach and they set up a little house keeping. They were there a couple of days trying to figure out what to do and just waiting on the Lord and all of a sudden, the natives started peering out at them from around the trees and bushes, but the natives didn’t do anything. They just kind of watched them. Which, in itself, must have been a terrifying experience.
At night, the cannibals would walk around their hut, and yet, still nothing.
Well, they were there several months and the tribe never touched them. As they continued to live their lives, just waiting for an opportunity to share the gospel, His wife gave birth to a little baby. And two weeks later his wife contracted a tropical disease and died and the next day the baby died. Now, he was all alone.
He said, “I buried the bodies and slept on them for three nights to keep the natives from digging them up and eating them.” And he said, “I was lonely beyond loneliness.” And he said, “I kept saying why God, why?”
I would have said the same thing.
I probably would’ve told God my plan, which wouldn’t have included me even arriving there. Anyone, in their right mind, hearing that there were man eating cannibals on that island, would have at least said, I’m not taking my wife with me. At most, “nah…pick someone else, God.”
You know, from every human standpoint, you’d figure well that’s fairly sound reasoning. The amazing story about Payton was that, he did go. He buried the bodies of his family and slept on them and he waited for the Lord to lead him and finally, it happened just days after that.
A native had been kicked out of the tribe and he came to John and they begin to communicate a little of the language and pretty soon he introduced him to a God who had a Son who died for him and that native became a believer.
The tribe heard about it and they started after John, but now he had somebody to warn him and the rest of his biography is the coolest thing you’ll ever read. They hid him all over the place and the natives never did find him. On the contrary, that one converted native, kept bringing other natives to Christ. And pretty soon there was a little group, and another group, and John stayed on those islands for a total of 35 years. At the end of 35 years, as he was leaving those islands, he said, “when I came here, I heard the cry of cannibals. As I leave I hear the ringing of church bells.”
John also said, “I do not know of one single native that hasn’t received Jesus Christ.”
That takes an awful lot of love and sacrifice that will never happen if we simply ask God to keep our children safe, healthy, and financially successful.
Protection and safety are two different things. Heck yes I pray God protects my son. For we battle not with flesh and blood, but we battle a spiritual battle. You cannot ever stop praying for your children to be protected in this world. But if they’re only ever kept safe, our children won’t pick up 5 stones and slay giants because of their faith in God almighty. Children who are kept safe, don’t lead men of valor into victory. I’ll tell you something, valiant men, have battle scars.
If you go through life, spiritually untouched and unharmed, man…. I would be inclined to pray for your salvation. You cannot Live Love and always walk away unscathed.
Pray for your kid’s protection, not their safety. If all our children ever do is go through life healthy, successful, and safe, and never have their lives supernaturally changed by God, they’ll live a long, healthy, and seemingly happy life. And they’ll spend eternity gnashing their teeth, where fires are never quenched, separated from God.