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Praying the Psalms — Psalm 23

January 8, 2009

Thursdays are going to be days for praying the Psalms. Psalm 23 is well known and a beloved psalm. It seems to be ingrained into our thinking as “the” psalm to pray when someone is close to death and is often found on the inside of memorial programs. It certainly belongs there. But this psalm deserve a regular place in our lives — all the time — because that is the context in which it was written.

Psalm 23
A psalm of David.
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.

Lord, You are our shepherd. We look to You and draw our identity from You. You are the caregiver. You provide for us. Everything we need, You will provide because You love us — You know us Lord and know our needs because we are ever under Your attentive gaze.

2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters,

Lord without your care and protection we would not be able to lie down and rest. Because of your presence —because You are with us, Your presence gives us assurance—even when things are so very difficult, even when we have been injured, or face illness — knowing You are present changes everything. May Your Spirit comfort our hearts – assure us Lord.
Your know Lord where to take us – to lead us to quiet & safe waters where we can receive nourishment deep within. Draw us to You – draw us into Your Word, nourish us by Your Spirit. Lord it is really only with You that our deep thirst can be quenched.

3 He restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Lord there are those of us that have suffered much, have been hurt, misunderstood. We struggle to find hope— But Lord you are not far off, You are near. Come speak peace to our hearts. Touch us with Your healing balm. Restore our soul.
Lord you take us along paths that lead us to into deeper relationship with You. We confess sometimes – a lot of times, we do not always understand. We want to know right now – we want the plan. But Lord we are learning to trust You. Your presence has become so vital to us that we fear not being with You. We will follow You as You lead us on paths of righteousness. We will remain in Your presence.

4 Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;

Lord we have felt this valley—some of us are in this valley—it seems so ominous. But Lord in this valley the narrowness of the path permits us to be so very close to You – all our fears, our imaginings cannot take hold of us when You are so near. We are reminded that a shadow only results when one is present. You know the way – You have been here before, therefore nothing will take You by surprise. We put our hand in yours—we will not fear because You are with us.

your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
Lord when we think about a rod and staff our first thought is not about comfort. But Lord You are teaching us and showing us that You use Your rod and staff to guide us, to protect us from enemies and from harm. Your rod is a symbol to our enemies that You are ever watchful and on guard for us. We may stray – You come and find us. Your word provides us with direction, instruction and correction. By Your rod and staff You count us as one of Your own.

5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

You have prepared a table for us – to sit with You. At this table we have exactly what we need. Our enemies may be nearby but under Your care and provision we are safe. It is amazing to us that our enemies are present at this table and yet the table is prepared, their presence does not disturb what is before us.
We come joyfully to the table You have prepared for us.
Anoint us with Your Spirit Lord— the oil of Your presence, Your protection, Your blessing.

6 Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Because You are our Shepherd, because You have marked us as Your own, because of Your care, Your covering, Your provision…Together with one heart we affirm Your goodness and mercy will be with us always—throughout our lives.
We are complete in You. You are our Shepherd, Our Lord. We want to remain in Your full view—We do not want to wander any longer. Lord Jesus it is our desire to dwell in Your house forever.
Hear our prayer. Amen.

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