Image source: Lamaze
I remember the first time, twenty years ago, when I came across the work of Ulrich Beck, the German scholar who wrote the book ‘Risk Society’. The book has stayed with me because the insight it provides about the increasing dangers of modern life, is proving truer and truer from year to year.
When Ulrich Beck wrote his book in 1986, many in the rich countries of Europe, America, and Asia, understood the dangers that threatened all life on earth; many in the poor countries in Africa and Asia did not. Fast forward to 2021, and thanks to the internet and social media, everyone, rich and poor, are now aware of the many risks humanity faces from the possibility of nuclear war, environmental problems, pandemics (HIV, Ebola, COVID), and new technologies (genetically modified foods, internet crimes, medical biotech like COVID vaccines).
How do we pray in a risky world? Solomon says in Proverbs 3:5-6 (New Living Translation): “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” Effective prayer is based on trust and Bible knowledge – we learn of God’s will, which is God’s vision and mission, first and foremost from the Bible.
Paul says in 1 Timothy 2:1-2 (New Living Translation): “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.” Leaders face pressures to be greedy, selfish, proud, and wicked – ask God to help them.
Jesus teaches in Matthew that when we pray for our needs, we should also pray for protection; thus Matthew 6:13 (New Living Translation) says our prayers should include the request: “And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.” There is an enemy of humanity, that want us to experience misfortune, pain, sorrows, and tears – Jesus says pray to God to be rescued from this evil one.
Lord, teach us to pray effectively, and protect us from risks known and unknown in the world today, in Jesus name, Amen!