SHOULD WE PRAY FOR “SAFE TRIPS” AND “TRAVELING MERCIES?”
by Shawn Brasseaux
It is common to hear Christian people assemble to pray for “safe trips” and “traveling mercies.” What exactly are “traveling mercies” I have no idea, so please do not ask me. The term is meaningless. But, I remember many times as a young child that my family and I would pray before leaving in a vehicle. As instructed in church, we would ask God to keep us safe on our journeys. As a child, I was under the impression that, if we would not pray for God to protect us before we left home, we would get in an automobile accident while en route to our destination. Many years ago, once I came to understand the Bible dispensationally, I realized just how futile that sort of praying was. Us praying about safe trips had nothing to do with what God was doing today. Let me tell you what I mean.
If we look at the Apostle Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, and we see how our apostle prayed, we find nothing about Christians praying for “safe journeys” and “traveling mercies.” Romans through Philemon contain four large model Pauline prayers—Ephesians 1:15-23, Ephesians 3:14-21, Philippians 1:9-11, and Colossians 1:9-10. These are specific prayers that Paul said on behalf of Christians in the Church the Body of Christ in the Dispensation of Grace. He said nothing about safe trips. However, he wrote plenty about dangerous trips.
Led by the Holy Spirit, Paul himself confessed that he had many hazardous journeys, trips that involved him being robbed, beaten, imprisoned, shipwrecked, destitute of shelter and food, and so on. In fact, there is language that Paul was killed (and God raised him) on a few occasions. We read in 2 Corinthians 11:23-27: “ Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.  Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.  Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;  In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;  In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.” If anyone should have prayed for “safe trips” in the Bible, it should have been the Apostle Paul! And, yet, he wrote nothing about such prayers. He never prayed them and he never exhorted us to pray in that manner, either. What are we doing praying to avoid something our apostle faced? If God was able to enable our apostle to endure it, surely God can enable us to bear them, too.
SEALED WITH THAT HOLY SPIRIT OF PROMISE
In fact, if you are going to say that the Lord will give us safe travels, how exactly will He do this? Will He send angels? Well, the answer is no, because Paul never talks about guardian angels in the Dispensation of Grace. I remember some time ago, a woman claimed that angels had protected some of her family members in a very serious car wreck. They were injured, some severely, but not killed. Some spent months in painful recovery. That sounded very silly to me. If there were guardian angels, I would expect them to guard against all injury, and not guard merely against death! Why did the angels not manipulate the circumstances so as to avoid the auto accident altogether? The truth is, whether in the Bible, or confirmed in our circumstances, angels have no ministry to us. Why? Because God is doing something different today than what He with Israel and angels in time past!
Ephesians 1:12-14 says: “ That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.  In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,  Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”
The Bible says that we who have trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, we are “sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.” That word “sealed” is a preservation term. It denotes security. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 that God the Father has “also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” What security! The Holy Spirit has encompassed our inner man, our soul and our spirit, and marked us as His own. Why should we be praying for God to protect our outward man—our physical body—when this physical body will eventually grow sick, grow old, and die anyway? Our soul, which lasts forever, is much more important than our physical body. If we die in a car accident, so what! We will go to heaven and be with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6-8).
SUPPLEMENTAL: YEAH, BUT WHAT ABOUT ROMANS 1:9-10?
Those who dislike dispensational Bible study look for any little verse or piece of a verse that proves their “safe trips and traveling mercies” persuasion. I have noticed that their favorite passage is Romans 1:9-10: “ For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;  Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.” Yet, they stop reading the passage right there. They do not continue reading verses so as to establish the context. (It sounds like someone has a denominational agenda to promote!!)
Here, we pause and ask, “What does Romans 1:10 actually say?” People are forcing Paul to write, “Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a safe journey by the will of God to come unto you.” But, that is not what the verse said in our King James Bible!!! Paul is praying for a “prosperous journey” not a “safe journey.” And just what does that expression “prosperous journey” mean? We do not have to wonder. We just read the next few verses and Paul will tell us!
“ For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established;  That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.  Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles.”
As we can clearly see, the “prosperous journey” of verse 10 is not for Paul’s benefit. The Bible is saying that that “prosperous journey” is for the Romans’ benefit! The Romans will prosper here. Paul wants to teach the Roman believers some doctrine that will firmly fix their understanding in sound Bible doctrine. He wanted to “impart unto [them] some spiritual gift.” He wanted to provide them with the same spiritual wisdom, spiritual knowledge, and spiritual understanding that he had. This is a far, far, far cry from Paul wanting to have a nice, sweet, carefree trip to Rome! (By the way, Paul did eventually arrive in Rome in Acts chapter 28—chapter 27 says he first experienced a storm at sea and then a shipwreck!)