February 25, 2023

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

I have been reading three psalms a week and sharing them on those social media platforms, typically on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.  This past Thursday, I shared briefly about how we could use Psalm 23 as a prayer of confession and gave an example of what that might look like with verse one.  Today in a departure from my usual commentary, I invite you to join me in prayer as I work through the whole psalm to lead us in confession.  Psalm 23 is a psalm of trust and comfort; working through it as a prayer of confession, I believe, will increase our confidence and security in our Good Shepherd.  I'm going to speak in the first person so we can each read it for ourselves.  Rejoice to know that others will be agreeing with you in prayer as they too read and confess.

Join me in prayer.

Good Shepherd, have mercy on me, a sinner, for trying to be my own shepherd and for claiming credit for what your hand has provided. I'm sorry. Restore to me the joy of dwelling in your fold as your sheep. I give you thanks for my dependence and your supreme dependability.

Good Shepherd, have mercy on me, a sinner, for not receiving the rest and refreshment you offer to my body and soul by not sleeping enough, rushing around in busyness trying to prove myself, hanging on to worry and fear, and forgetting your promises and provision.  I'm sorry.  Restore to me the joy of surrendering to how you created me to need physical and spiritual rest.  I give you thanks that you offer me rest. 

Good Shepherd, have mercy on me, a sinner, for looking around when I am walking through difficult times and determining that the problems exceed your ability to protect and deliver.  Forgive me for putting you in a box, thinking you have abandoned me, and/or fearing the dark rather than remembering I am a child of Light, a sheep in your fold.  I'm sorry.  Restore to me the joy of knowing you have not left me nor that you will forsake me. I give you thanks for always being with me and the reminder that I'm only passing through the valley, it is not the end of the story.

Good Shepherd, have mercy on me, a sinner, for looking around at the good that seems to be happening to others, maybe even people who are against me, and missing the table you've prepared before me and that I am your chosen and beloved child.  Your blessings overflow to me in your pasture, but I look over the wall and think that grass is definitely greener.  I'm sorry.  Restore to me the joy of seeing your gifts and anointing for all that they are, expressions of your love for me. I give you thanks for how much you love and the lengths you go to to prove it to me.

Good Shepherd, have mercy on me, a sinner, for forgetting that you pursue me and have good prepared for me, perhaps even assuming that I don't deserve your affection or that I need to earn it. Forgive me for denying - by how I live - that I have a future with you and an all-day-every-day hope in Christ, that what I see is not what evermore will be and that my now and forever are as secure as Jesus is alive. I'm sorry. Restore to me the joy of the day I first believed, knew I was yours, received the Spirit, and was enveloped in your love. I give you thanks that I dwell in your presence now and eternally.
My Shepherd, I love you! King Jesus, I surrender to your shepherding. Thank you for Holy Spirit within to cheer and guide in this journey.  Help me to trust and honor you; thank you for always gently guiding me back.

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