Protection Prayers

[To listen to the audio recording of this message, CLICK HERE or scroll to the bottom of the post and use the Spotify Player.]

Right now, the Church of the Nazarene USA/Canada Region is unifying in prayer and turning our attention to hearing from God in three specific areas. Those areas are “What is God’s 1) Protection 2) Direction 3) Revelation for my life and the life of the church?” We are collectively pondering on this question, seeking in prayer, reading scripture, reading or listening to devotional insights by other Nazarene leaders.

You might wonder why, why now and why these questions? The truth is something that we’ve probably swept under the rug for far too long. Fewer churches are being established, fewer people being ordained for full-time ministry, fewer salvation and baptisms to celebrate. I say fewer as it varies depending on where you live, but by-in-large – over the USA and Canada, we have been in a Spiritual Recession. 


The world outside North America is thriving with the message of Christian Holiness, but our communities here are not reaching as many people as our brothers and sisters elsewhere. There are LOTS of factors and we could spend an entire year giving excuses for the lack of growth. Lack of growth is not the problem…it’s a symptom. The cure to the illness is discovering, living and praying in the will of God. And so, we are seeking in prayer for His protection and understanding of what that entails. We desire to know his direction – specific plan or will for our life. We are prayerfully desiring to have some deep truth opened up to us, His revelation that will help us spiritually and personally break-through. All of this pertains to us personally and communally as a church. Seeking after this will bring the remedy to our sickness. It will bring a Spiritual Revival out of a Spiritual Recession.

Today’s message will focus on the prayer of protection. I’ve broken this down into 3 different headings:

  1. Protection Prayers of Today
  2. Protection Prayers in the Bible
  3. Protection Prayers in an unsafe world

Hopefully, as this post concludes we will understand what we mean when we pray for God’s protection and the place that protection prayers have as we seek God’s will for our lives and the life of the Church.

Protection Prayers of Today

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

Psalm 46:1 NIV

Think of a standard prayer for protection. What comes to mind?

When I was a kid, my folks would pray for “Traveling mercies” – safe, uneventful car or other vehicle trip. Safe leaving, arrival, return.

Traveling Mercies

Perhaps even safety in going about your daily tasks? 

During this message, I’m going to cite a bit of research conducted by the Barna Group, the premiere group in the field of research and statistics in regards to things of faith. They did a survey back in 2017 and the statistics I’ll share about prayer today is from that survey. I’ve included a link to it in the sermon notes so you can fact check me and see the research for yourself.

Back to the idea of Safety during daily tasks: work, traveling to and from work, running errands. You know, daily tasks? 41% of all surveyed said they prayed at least once in the last 3 months about safety concerning traveling or daily tasks. 

One does begin to wonder: Do you feel safe enough not to pray? Do you feel threatened so frequently that you pray this every time you step foot out of your home? Just thinking out loud for perspective…because our thoughts and feelings do dictate what we pray about, if we pray at all.

“…our thoughts and feelings

do dictate what we pray about…”

What other types of protection prayers can you think of?

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I’ve started to think of prayers for healing under the umbrella of “protection.” If the last one would be considered “Traveling Mercies” this one can be “Medical Mercies™. ”

Medical Mercies

This would be protection from: bad medical test results, complications in surgery, secondary infections during hospital stay. 

When Jacki and I were in our first year of marriage, Jacki had something happen to her at work that scared me. Part of her job as a Medical Laboratory Scientist was to occasionally draw blood for testing. On one such occasion, she was stuck with a needle, and the circumstances dictated that she be tested to make sure she didn’t contract some bloodborne illness from a patient. We prayed for negative test results. Tests came back that she was OK. I do believe it prepared me to pray (and cope) when a few years later she had a couple other major surgeries and an ER admittance.]

Additionally, prayers for recovery from medical procedures and hospital stays can fall under this. 

I know that a BULK of our prayer lists consist of “Medical Mercies™.” There is nothing wrong with praying for God’s protection upon our physical existence. Barna Group found that 47% of people surveyed prayed for their health and wellness and 34% prayed for specific requests from others. As we have on our board here at church, many shared requests – much of them health related.

I wonder, do we share health requests more frequently than other types because it seems easier to do? Perhaps because it’s the main thing in our life, in our hearts? Nothing wrong with that.

“14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.”

James 5:14 NIV

Traveling Mercies and Medical Mercies seem to be about the physical realm. What other types of things might fall into Prayers for Protection?

Before a Big Task

I don’t have a fancy “mercy” name for this one, but what comes to mind is a time of prayer before a Big Task. Maybe this bleeds into the other areas of focus: Praying for God’s direction and Revelation, but I think it can apply here as well. 

Near the beginning of the school year there is a prayer event held by student leaders outside public and private schools in September. It’s called “See You at the Pole.” As a Jr. high student, I enjoyed the doughnuts and OJ that was provided by local youth ministers supporting the students who were leading this prayer time. But snacks aside, the idea is simple: all who gather, circle around the school’s flagpole before class on the last Wednesday in September. They pray for their school, the year ahead of them, maybe even for their country – symbolically represented by the flag around which they pray. 

Protection from: Poor grades, temptation to do the wrong things, and physical danger. They may pray that the teachers and administrators lead well, but that does coast into the topic of direction – which I plan to discuss in specific next week.

Outside of the example of school, others might pray for protection when they break ground on their new building – whether it is a business or a home.

Photo by Ralph W. lambrecht on Pexels.com

Emergency Prayers: In case of an emergency, don’t break glass: PRAY!

Another time we often pray for protection and safety is when there is bad weather, natural disasters, or man made disasters (such as war)

Any other examples? If so, share them in the comments section below.

Protection Prayers of the Bible

We already have touched on some biblical examples and references to seeking God’s protection. I do find it interesting that many times with we look at these examples they more so affirm the faith belief that God does protect and will protect. Scripture overwhelmingly focuses on exalting God for who he is, what he’s done and what, in faith He will do in regards to Protection.

The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.

    What can mere mortals do to me?

7 The Lord is with me; he is my helper.

    I look in triumph on my enemies.

8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord

    than to trust in humans.

9 It is better to take refuge in the Lord

    than to trust in princes.

118:6-9 NIV

Here the psalmist takes solace and encouragement in the truth: The Lord is with Him. The Lord is his Refuge, place of shelter or protection.

We get the term “refugee” from this word, refuge. Someone seeking shelter or protection. While our country may assist or support people who are needing safety, God is our eternal refuge. “What can mere mortals” do to us?

Another passage about personal protection comes to us from Nehemiah 4:11-23. Again, no actual prayer for protection, but rather an affirmation of God and how he uses his people to protect the work he directed in Nehemiah’s heart. 

11 Also our enemies said, “Before they know it or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to the work.”

12 Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, “Wherever you turn, they will attack us.”

13 Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows.

Nehemiah 4:11-13 NIV

Then Nehemiah organizes and reassures the people who are doing the work of rebuilding the wall – the Lord will use them to protect each other and keep the work going.

19 Then I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. 20 Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us!”

Nehemiah 4:19-20 NIV

It seems that the biblical example set before us is to pray in faith, trusting and believing God is who He says he is. “He is our Refuge, our ever-present help in trouble.” This is not to say we should not pray for safety, but we must recognize where the protection comes. It comes from the Lord.

We’ve looked at Prayers for Protection of Today and of scripture. Let’s dig a bit deeper to see how they collide – Praying for protection in an unsafe world.

Protection Prayers in an Unsafe World

Here’s a Modern comparison for the previous example in Nehemiah:

We pray for safety and protection of our worship gatherings, but we are wise. We recognize there is or can be opposition to us.

  • Do we live in a war zone? Perhaps armed security is in place for safety. 
  • Are there people out there who weasel their way into church in order to gain access to the most vulnerable among us? We create safeguards, such as sexual abuse awareness training to keep the right kind of people caring for Kid’s ministry and discouraging those who may take advantage of week defenses. 
    • Discourage wolves from getting into the sheep pen.
  • Do we just leave our building unlocked and unattended? Nope. Not only for the safety of those who would use the building legitimately, but for those who might come in and harm themselves or others. Or perhaps pinch something they find of value. 

We are responsible for people and assets just as Nehemiah and his leadership was responsible for the safety of his people and the wall they were building. Can’t do the job without people. People don’t care for jobs or places or ministry in which they don’t feel safe or equipped. All the while, “The Lord will fight for us!” was the daily worker’s prayer. If you read further in Nehemiah, you discover that the deterrents Nehemiah put in place seemed to succeed. No physical attacks took place, but rather physiological war games. Nehemiah’s wisdom and trust in the God who protects gave him confidence to rebuff these intimidation tactics as well.

Conclusion: You must follow me

As we conclude the post today, you might be thinking to yourself: 

“All this is well and Good, but The Lord didn’t protect me. I prayed and I got sick. I prayed and my spouse, my child, my family member…still died. I prayed for healing and it hasn’t happened yet. I prayed people would be safe and they still ended up getting hurt.  This shook my faith. I’m not sure what to think…”

If this sounds familiar to your heart, please know you are not alone. Many a believer has struggled with the idea of prayers not being answered the way they desired. Or things happening in life that seemed opposite of God’s will.

In John 21, Jesus is commissioning and affirming the disciples’ leadership, specifically Peters. This should be a great honor to Peter and an encouragement. Then Jesus tells Peter this:

18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God.

John 21:18-19a NIV

Then Peter was like, that sounds ominous…but I can’t be the only one to die…right?

20 Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) 21 When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”

22 Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”

John 21:20-22 NIV

Peter had been given this detail about his future: “Bumpy road ahead.” The first thing he does is try to see if he is better or worse off than another. Jesus gets him back track.

Peter, who is your refuge? Who is your protection? Don’t worry about John.

“You must follow me.”  Essentially – Peter, get in line with my will.

This is reflected by the Old testament examples. More prayers affirming God’s protector status than asking him to act as such. God will is paramount.

—-

Part of this Half-Million Mobilization – Prayer movement is not only praying to God, but listening, hearing from Him. We are encouraged to record what He says to us about protection, direction and revelation for our lives and the life of the church.

In approaching this message today, here is what the Lord clarified to me: 

When we are following the Lord’s Directions, kicked off by his Revelation, Protection is just the icing on the cake.

Photo by Los Muertos Crew on Pexels.com

You might think of this as the thesis for this mini-series. We haven’t specifically touched on direction and revelation yet. I plan to in the coming weeks, but protection seems to top our prayer list priorities. However, if the Lord protects us in the way we ask or if He doesn’t, we need to be praying and living in the Will (or the direction) of God, catalyzed by the Revelation of God.
That’s what the Lord said to me this week and what I wanted to share with you. Protection ought to be prayed for, healing ought to be prayed for – sought, even with anointing with oil – , daily protection or protection for a new life changing adventure: all prayed for. But in the end, it’s icing on the cake. As Jesus told Peter and still says to us today: “You must follow me.”

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