Here’s a way to express the desires of your heart for those you cherish.
Posted in , Apr 14, 2022
Psalm 23 is the most beloved, memorized and quoted Bible psalm of all time. It may be the most beloved, memorized, and quoted Bible passage of all time, with the possible exception of John 3:16 (and maybe “Jesus wept,” the go-to memory verse for underachieving Sunday school students like me).
“The Shepherd’s Psalm,” as it is also called, has been a blessing to many in times of need, grief, weakness and peril. Attributed to Israel’s King David, it was written as a song of testimony. But it can be a boon to our praying, too. One way I use it is to turn David’s confident, grateful assertions in the first half of the psalm into petitions and use them all to express what I desire from God in the lives of my children. Though I sometimes make tiny changes in the specific wording, my prayer usually sounds something like this:
Lord, my Shepherd, be the Shepherd of my children; that they may lack for no good thing (Psalm 84:11). Prompt them to lie down in green pastures; lead them beside still waters. Restore their souls and lead them in the paths of righteousness for Your name's sake.
And if they must walk through the darkest valleys, let them fear no evil because they know You are with them; let Your rod and staff be their comfort. Prepare a table of bountiful blessings before them, even in the presence of their enemies. Anoint their heads with the oil of gladness; cause their cups to overflow with blessing. Let goodness and mercy follow them today and all the days of their lives and let them dwell in Your house, Lord, forever.
Now that I have five perfect grandchildren, I pray it also for them, simply changing “children” to “grandchildren” in the first line. Sometimes I’ll change that word to one of their names and pray it five times, one after the other. At other times, I’ll pause in the psalm to focus on a word or phrase and repeat it several times before moving on. Or I might re-word part of it to address a specific situation. For example, today, upon learning that one of my grandchildren is struggling with unkind treatment from schoolmates, I pray for our Shepherd to shine His light into that “dark valley,” for them to sense His presence, and for His rod and staff to defend and protect them from all evil.
The Shepherd Psalm can be prayed for others of course: parents, nieces and nephews, cousins, students, team members, employees and more. Try it and see if it doesn’t express the desires of your heart for those you love and care about.