calendar September 27, 2012 in Roster

From the Deans: Go to God in Prayer

By The Rev. Lamont Anthony Wells

Psalms 91:1-16 

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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!

Consider the words used to describe the place of refuge provided by God in the 91st Psalm. When we as a Synod grow and mature in our walk together with God, one of the main tools and resources used to plant, water, and nurture is dwelling in prayer.

What’s so special about making God our 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:

  • Rest in God’s shadow (v. 1).
  • Refuge in God’s fortress (v. 2,4).
  • Redemption from temptation (v. 3).
  • Reliance upon God’s promises (v. 5-6).
  • Retribution upon the enemy (v. 7-8).
  • Resort from wrath (v. 9-10).
  • Reinforcement from angels (v. 11-12).
  • Rescue from danger (v. 13-14).
  • Requests answered (v. 15).
  • Resilience promised (v. 16).

The 15th verse will be the focus of our consideration – “They will call upon me, and I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble, I will deliver them and honor them.”

“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.

Talking to God is much more effective when we’ve been walking with God.  We need to seek God’s face, not just God’s hand.

Let’s say we need a favor. Who are we going to ask, a friend or a stranger? Naturally we’re going to ask a friend because we have a relationship with them. The closer the friend the more we may feel inclined to make bigger requests (lol).

That’s why we need to constantly nurture our friendship (relationship) with God. Friendship is a two-way street. God is the initiator but we’re given an opportunity to reciprocate.

May we as a Synod continually go to God in prayer!

But be aware that as we call on God…God may call on us too!


The Rev. Lamont Anthony Wells is pastor of Reformation Lutheran Church in Mt. Airy and dean of the Northwest Philadelphia/Olney Conference.