Are you praying a lot for health these days? I am.
How many of your prayers are for your or others’ health or safety? If we were to take every prayer prayed in America in my lifetime, I imagine a large percentage of those prayers would be for health and safety. And if you were to take every prayer prayed in the past two months the number of prayers prayed for health and safety would be staggering.
God welcomes these prayers. And he hears them. We need only look to the Bible to see many prayers for health and welfare. Here are a few:
[M]y God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior; you save me from violence. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies. –2 Samuel 22:3-4
But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
let them ever sing for joy,
and spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may exult in you.
For you bless the righteous, O Lord;
you cover him with favor as with a shield. –Psalm 5:11-12
May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you! –Psalm 20:1
Guard me, O Lord, from the hands of the wicked;
preserve me from violent men,
who have planned to trip up my feet. –Psalm 140:4
So should we pray for health and safety? Certainly! Especially in these uncertain days, pray to God for your health and that God would halt the spread of COVID-19.
But these prayers ought to lead us even deeper, to prayers for spiritual health and safety.
In the past month, we’ve had the opportunity to preach on the demoniac (Matthew 9) and on the first chapter of Job. In each of these passages, we get a glimpse into the spiritual realms that usually elude us. I’ve been sobered by the reality of how little I understand. I am easily duped by my over-reliance on what I see with my eyes.
Paul has quite a different perspective. Paul tells us that what we don’t see is more significant than what we do see. The spiritual, unseen world is more real than the world we see. He concludes his letter to the church at Ephesus with an admonition to clothe oneself in spiritual armor because of this reality:
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. –Ephesians 6:11-12
Do my prayers mirror this perspective on what is the most real? Do I pray with as much (or more!) urgency for spiritual protection as I pray for physical protection? Consider these reminders and prayers:
Because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. –Psalm 16:10-11
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. –Psalm 46:1
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. – Matthew 6:13
My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. –John 17:15
But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. –2 Thessalonians 3:3
These prayers do not devalue prayers for physical protection and care. More than anything, God wants us to cry out to him. He loves to hear and respond to our prayers for health and safety. But I think what God would love would be for those prayers to be springboards for us to continue deeper still and pray earnest prayers for spiritual safety.
If our physical safety is as fragile as these past months have made us all realize it is, how much more fragile is our spiritual safety? God’s grip is secure. He will not lose any of his sheep. And yet, the enemy longs to unleash a spiritual pandemic that would ravage God’s flock. The enemy desires to see us in the grip of fear and addiction. The enemy would want nothing more than for us to believe that what we see is all there is. May we pray vigilantly against this spiritual robber who lurks on our doorstep.
Cry out to God for your physical safety and health and for your loved ones. But may every prayer we pray for our physical protection be doubled by a prayer for our and our loved ones’ spiritual protection.
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