By Toni Ford
Many of us have heard, read numerous times, and could probably even recite Psalm 23. Yet, to me there is no other psalm that helps us understand and see our Good Shepherd in a personal and more intimate way.
Much of the thoughts from this week’s column are taken from Sylvia Gunter at www.thefathersbusiness.com. As I read Psalm 23 and then read Sylvia’s article, both pieces led me straight to praying this psalm aloud for myself and for others. I love to pray the Word of God and know without a doubt we can never go wrong when we pray His Word.
In the Middle East, in order to enter the sheepfolds, a shepherd’s sheep had to pass under his rod for him to inspect their condition up close. The shepherd would tend to any obvious needs one by one. Then when all the sheep were in the fold, he lay down across the opening with his own body so that they were secure. May this picture of Jesus, as your Good Shepherd tending to your needs and the needs of your loved ones, stand out in your mind as you read and pray this psalm over yourself and others.
Ask God to show you about Himself in this classic psalm while at the same time, opening your heart to receive His revelation deep within your spirit. As you pray, may the Words of this psalm penetrate deeply into your soul.
The Lord is my Shepherd – Jehovah-Rohi: God my Shepherd. Jesus said, “I am the Good Shepherd who knows my own sheep by name (John 10:11).” The Lord of the universe knows you personally! Thank Him for your relationship with Him. Pray for others: Jesus is the great Shepherd of all His sheep. Pray for someone who might be discouraged and feeling hopeless. Pray for them to know God as their Good Shepherd.
I shall lack nothing – Je-hovah-Jireh: The Lord my Provider. If God provided so much in Jesus to meet your spiritual needs, will He not also take care of your daily practical needs? Pray, “Give us this day our daily bread (Mat. 6: 11),” and name specific needs you are trusting Him for. Thank Him He is your provider. Pray for others: Pray for those who have real financial needs and for those who are discontent with what they have. Pray they will know Jehovah-Jireh and see Him as their provider.
He leads me beside quiet waters – Jehovah-Shalom: God my Peace. Pray about anything that is disquieting your peace. Affirm that God is your peace. Pray for others: Ask God how to pray for someone in a hard place. Pray for Him to calm all fear, doubt, worry, inadequacy and anxiety with the Prince of peace in their heart.
He restores my soul – Je-hovah-Rapha: The Lord my Healer. Where do you need the healing and restoration of Jesus the Healer? Pray for others: Pray for God to heal the hurts, bitterness, control, judgments, differences, separation, wrong priorities, apathy, etc., of someone you know.
He guides me in paths of righteousness – Jehovah-Tsidkenu: The Lord my Righteousness. Pray for God’s guidance as you dedicate yourself to follow Him as Lord. Pray for others: Jesus declares us to be righteous, not for what we have done, but because of His perfect righteousness. Pray for salvation for somebody who has not received Jesus as God’s perfect sacrifice for their sin.
For His name’s sake – Jehovah-M’Kaddesh. God’s name is holy. He says, “I the Lord alone am holy, and I make you holy because you are called by my holy name.” Pray that you will not dishonor His name. Pray for others: Pray that someone away from God will desire to bring glory and honor to His name.
I will fear no evil, for you are with me – Jehovah-Shammah: God who is there. Jesus promised His disciples, “I have all authority and I am always there for you” (Mat. 28:19, 20). Affirm His presence with you that dispels fears and unbelief. Pray for others: God promised His pre-sence in Exodus 3:12 for leading the children of Israel out of Egypt. In Exodus 33:14, He reaffirmed His presence to finish what He began. Ask God to reveal Himself to your family and friends in powerful new ways.
Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You can depend on the rod of His protection and the staff of His correction and rescue. Receive the protection and correction of your Good Shepherd. Pray for others: “His comfort is as warm and tender as that of a mother for her child” (Isa. 66:13, 49:13, 52:9). Who needs you to pray God’s comfort for them?
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies – Jehovah-Nissi: The Lord my Banner of victory. Praise God that He gives victory over your enemies and sins, as you depend on the authority of your crucified, resurrected, victorious Redeemer. Pray for others: Pray the same prayer for your family and friends.
You anoint my head with oil. Oil was used for medicine, sanctification, appointment to office and as a sign of fellowship. Oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit, who is all these things. Thank God for the power of the Holy Spirit to heal, restore, soothe, cleanse, appoint to His work and give a sign of your fellowship with the Father and his Son. Pray for others: Pray that your family and friends will live in the Spirit.
My cup overflows. Exercise your attitude of gratitude. Pray for others: Pray that your family and friends will praise God continually as their Source.
Surely goodness and love with follow me all the days of my life. Thank God for a specific evidence of His goodness and love He has shown you daily. Pray for others: Thank God for people who have shown His goodness and love to you. Tell them so at your first opportunity. Pray that they will see God’s goodness to them.
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Ask God to show you how to practice His presence with you continually. Pray for others: Ask God for the body of Christ to worship Him with their whole heart and be committed to living in His presence daily.
If you would like me to join you in prayer please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to pray for you!