Summary: Third sermon in the series, "Reality Prayer - How to Ask So God Will Answer".
We all want a place to go when we’re stressed or sad, tired or lonely, fearful or tempted, disappointed or discouraged - a place where we can unload our burdens and get some relief. When we feel insecure and inadequate we need a refuge - a shelter. We need a retreat. Prayer can transport us to such a place!
One young boy was telling the pastor that his mother said his prayers for him each night. "What do you mean, your mother says your prayers for you?" the puzzled minister inquired. The youngster replied, "When mom tucks me in she always says, "Thank God he’s in bed."
Well that’s one way of utilizing prayer as a way to get away from it all, but there’s much more.
Consider the words used to describe the place of refuge provided by God in this great 91st Psalm.
The first word is "shelter" in verse one. This literally means "a hiding place - to cover, to hide covertly or secretly". The King James translates the Hebrew words here "secret place".
These same Hebrew words are translated "hiding place" in Psalm 32:7 - "You are my hiding place: you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance."
Did you know that mosquito repellants don’t actually "repel" at all? They hide you. The spray blocks the mosquito’s sensors so they don’t know where you are. In much the same way God can become our trouble repellant. He doesn’t always dispel troubles from our lives but He can hide us from them!
God is also called our "refuge" in verses two and nine. This Hebrew word literally means "hope, place of refuge, shelter, or trust."
The Psalmist also uses the word "dwelling" in verse nine to describe a close relationship with God.
The previous Psalm written by Moses uses the same characterization - "LORD, YOU have been our DWELLING PLACE throughout all generations."
What’s so special about making God your DWELLING?
Just look at the blessings of dwelling in God’s presence in Psalm 91. Each one of them in itself is outstanding but when you put them all together it’s almost overwhelmingly unbelievable!
Indulge the alliteration with this bird’s eye view of what this Psalm says DWELLING in God’s presence offers us:
V. 1 - REST in God’s shadow.
V. 2,4 - REFUGE in God’s fortress.
V. 3 - REDEMPTION from temptation.
V. 5-6 - RELIANCE upon His promises.
V. 7-8 - RETRIBUTION upon the enemy.
V. 9-10 - RESORT from wrath.
V. 11-12 - REINFORCEMENT from angels.
V. 13-14 - RESCUE from danger.
V. 15 - REQUESTS answered.
V. 16 - RESILIENCE promised.
The 15th verse will be the focus of our consideration today - "He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him."
"IF we make the Most High our DWELLING" (V.9) we can claim the promise of God answering our prayers when we’re in trouble. (V. 15) We then have a way to get away from it all.
Prayer in this context is more than just a problem-solving tool. Prayer becomes a WAY OF LIFE.
Our dwelling is where we live - we’re not just an occasional guest. Likewise, our relationship with God should not consist of only an occasional visit. Especially if that visit is solely for the purpose of helping us out of trouble.
Jesus reinforced this insight when he said, "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you." (John 15:7)
It would be easy for us to zero in on the last part of Christ’s statement and fail to grasp the significance of the first part. We relish the "ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you" part of Christ’s promise. But we’re often unmindful of the condition: if we’re going to ask so that God answers our prayers, we must "remain" in Christ and His words must "remain" in us.
We know the devil is behind a plot to muddle this truth because he quoted verses eleven and twelve of the 91st Psalm when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness.
"If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written:’He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’" (Matthew 4:6)
Satan had these verses of the Bible memorized but he wasn’t dwelling in God’s presence so he purposely twisted the Word of God. Satan was the first spin-doctor. He’s been involved in that kind of activity since the Garden of Eden.
Jesus on the other hand was always in the presence of the Father. He wasn’t the least bit fooled by Satan’s distorted view of scripture. Jesus knew that prayer was not a lucky rabbit’s foot or four-leaf clover that you carried in your hip pocket. God isn’t a genie in a bottle that you rub and get three wishes from when you want them.