For about a year now, I’ve been dwelling on Psalm 23, particularly the metaphor of God as the believer’s shepherd. It is marvelously rich and comforting! Indeed, even Charles Spurgeon, the famous “prince of preachers”, referred to the verses of Psalm 23 as a “heavenly loaf that I must eat”. One of the activities that has drilled its truths down deeper into my soul is to meditate on it, preach it to myself and pray it for myself personally, verse by verse.
Below is a guided prayer, verse by verse, for your use.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
I confess that I am not in charge – you are, Lord! I am totally dependent on you, and what a relief to know that you are my caretaker, provider and guardian. You give me everything I need and more. Help me to believe that, regardless of any unfulfilled wants or difficult circumstances, I am well taken care of by you.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
Lord, I know that you supply my every need and fill me with the greenest and best sustenance. You let me rest safely in you. I have faith that even if I feel like I am in a “barren desert”, you will lead me to a “green pasture” for rest. I am a weak and tired sheep – lead me to a green pasture, Lord!
He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.
Thank you, Lord, that you don’t guide me to dangerous, turbulent rapids that will swallow me up, but to peaceful, still waters to drink from. You refresh my parched soul. I can trust that all of my thirst and yearnings are fulfilled in Christ, my “living water”.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Lord, I know that you have not left me to navigate life on my own – you will show me the right paths to take. Show me the good, just, godly paths that you have planned. If I am not on the right path, I pray that you would gently direct me back on track with your staff. You are invested in me and you will never let me be put to shame – your very name is at stake!
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I recognize, Lord, that there is no guarantee that my life will be comfortable. Please forgive me that I worship comfort and easy living over you sometimes. This valley in my life is dark and scary and painful… there is hardly any sunlight. Death or doom seem so close that I can see its shadow over me!
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
I confess that where you are, Lord, there is no need to fear. However big, scary or inevitable the evil in my life or world may appear, it can’t hold a candle to your protection and sovereignty. With you by my side, I can live like I am in a green pasture, even in a dark valley. Help me to be brave. Help me to walk by faith and hug your knee and stay close to you.
your rod and staff, they comfort me.
Lord, I know that you protect me in many ways. Sometimes you powerfully beat away the wild, evil things in my life with your rod. But sometimes, you have to yank me away from danger with your hooked staff. Even though it doesn’t always feel good (oww!), I know that I can take comfort in the fact that you will not let me slip off the rocks or wander into a dangerous ravine in my life. Please, don’t hold back your rod and staff from me, Lord!
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
Lord, help me to remember and cherish that you not only rescue me, but I am a beloved and honored guest of yours and you lay out a feast of abundance for me always. You are a happy God and you love to celebrate! I can’t wait to party with you at the wedding banquet of the lamb someday. It fills me with courage to know that even though I have adversaries and enemies, they are utterly powerless to do anything but weakly look on at the joyful business of your kingdom.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Lord, help me to be confident in your love that you have chosen to love me and bless me as a welcomed guest in your kingdom. I remind myself that you always provide above and beyond my expectations and needs, however mysteriously.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
These holy twins – your goodness and your steadfast love – are always at my back, just as you are at my front, leading me as a shepherd. Help me to more deeply know the truth of your unconditional favor and love, Lord. What a wonder to know that not a single day in my life will go by without your goodness in it.
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Lord, I know that all the days of my life will go by in just the blink of an eye. What a thought to know that there is always something bigger, better and more satisfying to look forward to – living with you forever in the new heavens and new earth. Help me to not be too attached or focused on the temporary “apartment” of this life, but to keep my eyes heavenward and homeward bound, because the best is always yet to come with you!