Psalm 23 has been a long-time favorite. Years ago, I committed this to memory as a reminder of God’s care and provision. I would like to revisit this chapter, which the Holy Spirit inspired King David to write over 3000 years ago. I also would like to offer each point as a prayer to God.
“The Lord is my Shepherd.”
That makes me His sheep. I was bought with a price. The payment for my relationship cost the Shepherd His life. I do not own me. I am His and my identity is complete as His slave.
Father God, I pray that You would help me completely identify my life as Your servant. You are the Master and I have been purchased by You for Your work and glory.
“I shall not want.”
There is no greener grass or better water than what God provides. My vision does not allow me to see what is over the horizon. The Lord, however, knows everything. He knows what I truly need, when I need it, and how I should receive it.
Father God, I want to trust You with all my heart. I want to leap when You say “leap” and stay when you command me not to move. I need You to provide my mind with an immovable trust in You.
“He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.”
I am prone to wander. I chase after that which looks appealing and fulfilling. Yet, I cannot discern from the kudzu (good for sheep) and the “Lily of the Valley” (which would be fatal to eat). I am excited by the thrill of the rushing waters. But God knows the danger of the current in which I could drown. His guidance is perfect. The Lord’s path is always best.
Lord God, I pray that I would become content with Your plan and Your guidance. Where I am now and where I am going is in Your hands.
“He renews my life; He leads me along the right path for His name’s sake.”
God does not lead me today so that I can live in luxury and pleasure. He does not redeem my soul and rescue me from Hell because I deserve a better life. He renews my life and leads me “for His name’s sake.” He saves people by His grace to bring glory to His work. What brings God glory may not be what I think is best. My way, filled with familiarity and security, may not be the way that brings glory unto Him. In fact, I shudder at the fact that most followers who brought God glory during the first few centuries after Jesus’ resurrection were killed for their faith. “All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted…” is not typically our idea of the wonderful, Christian life. (2 Timothy 3:12)
To the God who made me, You lead into places and circumstances unexpected. If you lead me, You have a plan. You will be glorified when I follow Your plan. If you lead me to face persecution or death, You are at work and will receive glorify. I can endure any trial or difficulty, if You are with me. My life is not mine, anyway.
“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.”
What is a larger force in our lives: the pain of our struggles or the power of our God? King David reminds people of their greatest fear- death. Then he shatters the fear by reminding us of God’s presence. When I face a dark and difficult moment, I am tempted to wonder where God is. He is right there. His staff is a comfort, for it is more than a stick. In the hand of God, anything is sufficient to demonstrate His power. His “rod and staff” can bring me peace because God is neither surprised nor overwhelmed by any event in my life. May we stand with the Apostle Paul and state, “If God is for us, who [or what] can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)
Lord and Master, I am not praying for You to keep me from life’s storms. I am asking You to show me that You can and will handle anything that causes me fear. May I have faith in Your power.
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”
My idea of an overflowing life has nothing to do with material possessions, financial security, or the recognition of man. I have met some of the poorest people on earth in sub-Sahara Africa and deep in the Andes Mountains. Without any of the world’s treasures, the joy of the Lord overflows from their lives. My life overflows when it is filled with God.
Father, I pray that my life would be filled with You and emptied of the distractions of idolatry, lust, and pride.
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwellin the house of the Lord forever.”
Jesus continually pointed His disciple to real hope. His concern was much more focused upon eternity over the temporal. He wanted His disciples to impact this world with the Gospel and give God the glory through their action. Their eyes, however, were to be fixed upon life everlasting.
Lord, I look forward to the time when I am unhindered in my relationship with You. I look forward to eternity, as You perfect all things and we enjoy life together as You created it to be.
In the glorious name of Jesus I pray.