A Prayer for Danger
Have you ever known someone who loved living dangerously?
One of my best friends in high school never missed an opportunity to do something crazy. This produced a ton of great stories, but it also meant that he was almost always in some kind of trouble. He never seemed to mind; he liked it that way. Others avoid trouble like the plague. They carefully map their route through life with the sole purpose of staying out of it, but trouble still finds them.
Trouble is part of life. Jesus even warned his followers, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33b). Trouble and breathing go together. Perhaps the reality of this is hitting home for you right now. You have done everything you can do to stay out of trouble, but your job situation is shaky, a relationship has gone sideways, your home is chaotic, or you’ve found out someone you love is sick. Trouble has found you, and life has become dangerous. In these moments, anxiety and frustration can get the upper hand. You are overwhelmed with the trouble that has come your way and there is seemingly no light at the end of the tunnel.
What do you do? If you were to stop, take a moment and breathe, how would you process what you are feeling? How do you handle danger?
Say this: “GOD, you’re my refuge. I trust in you and I’m safe!” Psalm 91:2, The Message (emphasis added)
Did you say it? Seriously, it will be good for you, say it. You can even whisper it if you want.
With these simple words the Psalmist lays out a road map for prayer in the midst of trouble (quick side note the LXX, the Greek translation of Old Testament, credits this psalm to David, which seems like a safe bet since David was in danger often). There are two action steps he takes in prayerfully processing his situation that the Psalmist elaborates on in the verses that follow:
Personally Apply Who God Is and Take Seriously What He Does
“That’s right—he rescues you from hidden traps, shields you from deadly hazards. His huge outstretched arms protect you— under them you’re perfectly safe; his arms fend off all harm. Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night, not flying arrows in the day, Not disease that prowls through the darkness, not disaster that erupts at high noon. Even though others succumb all around, drop like flies right and left, no harm will even graze you. You’ll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance, watch the wicked turn into corpses. Yes, because GOD’s your refuge, the High God your very own home, Evil can’t get close to you, harm can’t get through the door. He ordered his angels to guard you wherever you go. If you stumble, they’ll catch you; their job is to keep you from falling. You’ll walk unharmed among lions and snakes, and kick young lions and serpents from the path.” Psalm 91:3–13, The Message (emphasis added)
If we’re not careful we can read verses like this with a mental shrug that says, “that’s a nice thought” but fail to go beyond the realm of an encouraging idea to the level of our need. The Psalmist essentially says, let me put some meat on the bones of how God has been a refuge and fortress for me.
Seriously considering what God does as a refuge for his people means that you see your situation through the lens of his power. Take God’s power out of the abstract and apply it to your pain. If our understanding of God’s character and nature just stays at the level of abstract truisms, it will not penetrate our hearts. We have to personally appropriate the truth of Scripture our hearts. The Psalmist says God is a safe place for you to run, so run!
Hear What God Speaks, Really Hear It
“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” Psalm 91:14–16, ESV (emphasis added)
When you are walking through dangerous times and difficult seasons, be careful what you listen to. The devil would love nothing more than to use your fear to weaken your faith. The Psalmist concludes his prayer by listening to God speak. Don’t just let a psalm like this wash of over you and not grip your heart. Make God’s Word the final word on your situation, and then respond accordingly.