If I was to ask you which is the most well-known psalm which one would you choose? I’m guessing most people would go for Psalm 23 – “The Lord is my shepherd…” It comes up most often at funerals either read, or sung as a hymn, more so with people who are not regular church-goers. It’s possibly the second “go-to” after the Lord’s Prayer, perhaps because it’s full of comfort and encouragement about God’s goodness and care for us. Still, I wonder, in its popularity, when was the last time you actually took time to think over what this great psalm is all about, how it applies to our everyday lives, and our relationship with Jesus who is the Lord, and our Good Shepherd.
It’s so important that we remember God’s constant and unfailing goodness… that the psalmist says will ‘follow us all the days of our lives.” I find that when we lose sight of God’s goodness it really affects our thoughts and feelings, the way we live each day and our prayer: we tend to stop expecting God to help and stop asking, to stop trusting God, until He becomes more of a last resort rather than the first, and we become more pessimistic about the future, worried, stressed, insecure… I could go on!
The truth is that God wants to share his goodness with us and to help us in our need. Part of the gift of prayer is to be able, to be invited to ask God for help and, as we do, to grow in our relationship, to learn to trust Him more as we discover that He provides and cares for us… “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want…” or as a modern translation puts it, ‘I have all that I need’ (NLT). No request is too big, or too small – actually they’re all pretty small to the God who created and holds the Universe!! But because He loves us and wants us to know it, He provides for our needs when we open ourselves to receive through asking in prayer. If we would only remember this more often, how much worry could we spare ourselves, how much anxiety could be relieved by growing our trust in the Lord my Good Shepherd?!
Try looking at this list alongside Psalm 23
He will … meet all my needs (even when I’m worried)
… teach me to relax when I’m stressed out
… replenish my strength when I’m empty
… guide me when I’m confused
… walk with me in my dark and fearful days
… protect me when I feel insecure
… publicly show His favour on my life
… be good to me no matter what happens
… take me to heaven one day
Afterall, as Jesus taught his disciples, ‘if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.’
I’m not always that good at remembering so I’ve started writing down a list of the day-to-day things I bring to God in prayer and he then provides and helps me with. It’s really encouraging seeing it grow and it helps me be more thankful.
As you go out into each day remember to listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd (and not other negative voices), and follow as He leads you and provides for you and don’t forget his purpose – ‘I have come that they might life… abundantly’
Blessings in Christ,