Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

3 The Relationship of Prayer

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Psalm 91: 1-2, 9, 15

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

9 If you make the Most High your dwelling even the Lord, who is my refuge—

15 He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.

Psalm 91 is a beautiful picture of an intimate prayer life; in it we see a call to prayer but notice that it comes at the end of the psalm in verse 15. First, Psalm 91 starts out with a call to dwell with the Lord, the front end of prayer is not about demanding but dwelling. Prayer in not a problem-solving tool, prayer is a way of life; it is a personal call to do life with God. To dwell means to remain and a dwelling is not a place that we go to it is a place that we live in. Yet it is more than just where we live it’s about making oneself at home, it’s about not being an occasional guest. Likewise, our relationship with God should not consist of an occasional visit for the solely 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 is tempting for us to grab at the last part of Christ’s statement and fail to grasp the significance of the first part. We respond to the “ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you” part of the promise but do we relish the “remain” part? If we’re going to ask so that God answers our prayers, we must “remain” in Christ and His words must “remain” in us. Prayer is a response to a personal relationship not a problem. To further emphasize this point of dwelling with God I want to remind you of how Psalm 91 shows up in the New Testament.

Psalm 91 is well known because verses 11-12 are the scriptures that the devil quoted 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 is always twisting truth and he leaves out the statement found in verse 9 “If you make the Most High your dwelling” Satan had these verses of the Bible memorized but he wasn’t dwelling in God’s presence. Jesus wasn’t the least bit fooled by Satan’s distorted view of scripture, because he was doing life in the presence of the Father. 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. Talking to God is much more effective when we’ve been walking with Him, and Psalm 91 is a call to seek His face not just His hand. The psalmist says that one of the results of being in a relationship with God is rest, resting in His love, forgiveness, power and protection. Prayer is not about results but about relationship, it’s not about getting but about being. Verse 2 says that dwelling also results in trusting, “my God, in whom I trust” trust is always built in the context of relationships. When you need a favor, who are we going to ask, a friend or a stranger? Naturally you are going to ask a friend because you have a relationship with them and you trust them. How would you categorize your relationship with God, friend or stranger? Does your prayer life flow out of doing life with Jesus or in response to life?

Prayer is not about the results it’s about the relationship and out of the relationship flow the results. Psalm 91 starts with a relationship, dwelling in His presence, and then goes on to show us the overflow of results from this relationship:

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.

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