From Praying the Names of God Week Twenty, Day Two
These descriptive names for God often appear in clusters in the psalms as well as in other portions of the Scripture. When you pray to God your Refuge, Shield, Fortress, Dwelling Place, and Strong Tower, you are invoking the God who has promised to watch over you and keep you safe.
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God in whom I trust." (Psalm 91:1-2)
PRAYING THE NAME
The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
Those who know your name will trust in you,
for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek
you. (Psalm 9:9-10)
Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
forever. (Psalm 23:4-6)
Praise God: Because he cares for the oppressed.
Offer Thanks: For the times God has been your refuge.
Confess: Times when you've taken refuge in anything and everything but God.
Ask God: To be a refuge for the oppressed of the world.
A few years ago, a young Liberian man experienced the truth of God's promise to be a refuge for the oppressed. His story takes place in the late 1990s, in the middle of Liberia's bloody civil war. Joedafi was doing his best to stay alive while making the fortyfive-mile trek on foot to the capital city of Monrovia, hoping for a chance to escape the fighting that raged around him. After he and his friends spotted several bodies rotting in the bush, he began crying out to God with the words of Psalm 23—"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death..."
Suddenly he and his companions were surrounded by soldiers. They had unwittingly wandered into Charles Taylor's rebel camp. When one of Joedafi's friends tried to resist, the rebels didn't hesitate—they slit his throat with a machete.
Joedafi was thrown into a crudely constructed jail, around which were strewn human bones and skulls. Knowing he would die if he didn't escape, he kept on praying Psalm 23. Then, after a few days, he was moved to a place deep within the forest. He reports what happened next:
I began to feel that I would be set free by the Almighty God. I'm not sure how I came to have such a feeling, but it was ever there. This thought was quite wild, because I witnessed the soldiers' disregard for life. They made us drink from human skulls, bury dead bodies, and live on leaves. Yet Psalm 23 was giving me the feeling that out of this valley of the shadow of death, God would deliver me. In the past, I read my Bible daily and went to church. Now I believed that God would do something and prove himself. I had believed in the Lord and trusted him to lead me in my life. I took faith in the teaching I heard that the Lord delivers those who trust him and commit their ways to him. One evening, as I was dozing off to sleep, I heard a silent voice call my name, commanding me to rise up and walk away from my captors. It was so commanding, I obeyed instantly and walked past sleeping guards out onto the main road. I walked on spellbound and passed by many rebel soldiers along the road, but not one of them dared ask me any question. I walked through many check-points and wasn't stopped once.
Joedafi kept on walking, hour after hour, until he met someone willing to give him a ride to Monrovia, where he then boarded a ship for Ghana.
What a remarkable story of a man who trusted God to be his refuge and was not disappointed! Most of us will never face the kind of terror Joedafi describes, but we will pass through storms that test our faith. When that happens, remember that the same God who so miraculously rescued this man is your God too. Let him be the refuge you seek, your stronghold in time of trouble. Today as you think about God's desire to be a refuge for his people, pray for believers throughout the world who are suffering the ravaging effects of poverty, war, famine, and natural disasters. Ask God to shelter and to save them. Find a way to help by giving generously of your time and resources so that others will experience the power of God's promises.
Meet your spiritual ancestors as they really were: Less Than Perfect: Broken Men and Women of the Bible and What We Can Learn from Them.