Why I Don't Pray for Safety (for my kids or myself)

By | 8:29 AM Leave a Comment
I know, on surface level the above written statement comes across as confusing, harsh, and perhaps even a bit unloving. So, let me clarify a bit...

There is this scene in the movie, Paddington, where Mr. Brown and his wife are riding a motorcycle, hair flying in the wind, the pair of them the quintessential embodiment of an adventure filled life. They ride this motorcycle right up to a hospital, when the scene changes and out they walk with their newborn baby, only to have changed out their motorcycle for a beige volvo station wagon. The implied message: Forget adventure, safety trumps everything now that there are children.

This message isn't found in just a movie. It pervades our entire parenting culture. We've become so focused on keeping our kids safe or lowering risk or buffering the hard stuff that perhaps we have forgotten that it is those very risks, hard times, and unsafe moments that provide life with depth, that push us to dependency on God, and therefore intimacy with Him.

Yes, of course, I want my kids to be safe and we do the whole bike helmet and car seat thing. We don't knowingly allow them to ride their roller blades off the roof. We are trying our darnedest to train them to make wise choices.  But, my end goal for my children is not for them to stay safe. At the end of their life, if all they've lived is a "safe" life...then, they've missed out on experiencing Jesus in a way that only comes with risk.

If you look throughout scripture there are several examples of when Jesus makes an appearance prior to and after his life as a physical man. I'll pick just two of them:

The account of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and the fiery furnace, found in Daniel 3, and
in Acts 7, with the story of the stoning of Stephen.

The ending to both of these accounts are vastly different: One group is kept safe, one man is martyred. But in both, Jesus showed up! All took great risks because of their faith, and their reward was Jesus himself!

Why would I want anything less for my life? And therefore, my kids lives? Getting to experience Jesus involves taking risks, stepping out in faith, and doing things that don't make sense to the mainstream culture.

What does this look like practically? Good question, one we are continuously trying to figure out ourselves! Here are two ways we are trying to work on to help us flesh this out:

1) Pray the process, not the result.

I don't want to be so quick to pray the result. I need to pray for the process. I need to be praying for the spiritual development and fruit in the life of my child. I need to be asking God, "what characteristic, what things are You wanting to grow in this child?" rather than just pray them out of a situation.

2) Be the example.

If all my kids ever see is a safe life lived out by their parents they will either 1) view me as a hypocrite 2) view following Jesus as boring or 3) embrace the safe life themselves. This means I have to include them in some of our decisions as a family, allow them to see when we take a risk by giving away more money than we "should", or opening up our home to someone that needs it, or spending time on a foreign mission field, or whatever other thing the Lord leads us to.

Following Jesus will not be easy for my children. They are growing up in an environment that is only growing more and more hostile and distracting from things of real value. But, James 1 tells us that strength is developed through trials. Easy circumstances do not cultivate strong children.

Therefore, my prayers for my kids (and myself) aren't without the desire for their safety, but with the understanding that true, lasting, deep relationship with Christ is cultivated by trials and hard things...so I will continue to pray for them with an eternal mindset, knowing that they will find joy and fulfillment in the presence of their Savior, not in a safe life.

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