If one were to attempt an expedition to the Amazon Jungle or the Siberian Plains in the winter, one would certainly need an experienced guide. One who would direct you through the terrain and topography that he has known all his life. One who would guard you from 90 degrees below zero temperatures in Siberia or from dangerous plants and animals in the Amazon. To attempt such a trek with no experience or without adequate preparation could prove disastrous if not fatal. A really top-notch guide would also be your mentor and teach you how to cope with problems so that some day you could be a guide yourself during subsequent journeys.
In the public prayers from the pulpit many of us have heard the phrase, “May the Lord guide, guard and direct you. In some cases it may have seemed like a mandatory inclusion without any forethought. But if we analyze the terms, it can be a beautiful and meaningful petition on our behalf.
During his last few days on earth, Jesus promised his apostles he would send them a guide, The Counselor (NIV) or Comforter (KJV) from the Father to be with them forever (Jo 14:16-17). He would live in them and teach them all things and remind them of what Jesus had said (Jo 14:26) (Jo 15:26) (Jo 16:12-15). He is the Spirit of Truth or The Holy Spirit (Jo 14:16-17). He is a part of the Godhead and the Spirit of God and of Christ (Rom 8:9). He inspired the apostles what to write (2 Pe 1: 20-21) and we now build our hope on this teaching (Eph 2:20).
“The peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds.” (Php 4:7) God sends his angels as ministering spirits to serve (guard) those who will inherit salvation (Heb 1:14). We are told to, “Watch out! Be on guard against all kinds of greed…” (Lk 12:15) He who obeys instructions guards his life (Pr 19:16). But he who guards his soul strays far from…( the paths of the wicked) (Pr 22:5). God guards us from evil but we too must be on our guard.
“I am the Lord your God who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.” (Is 48:17) He certainly did this in the desert wanderings by directing his people to sweet water (Ex 17:23-25) and where to camp (Ex 19:2). The Holy Spirit directed the apostle Paul where to go on his missionary journeys (Ac 16:7,9). As he directs us on Jesus’ teachings, the Holy Spirit mentors us so that we can be, “thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim 3:16)
Therefore, when we hear a prayer for God to guide, guard and direct us, we can understand what that means and cherish it without letting it become a meaningless repetition.