Praying the 23rd Psalm

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The 23rd Psalm is the most popular Psalm that David ever wrote. Not only is the Psalm still a focal point of countless sermons and songs, but you can even find references to it in secular entertainment.

For instance, when there is a TV show or a movie that contains a funeral, it’s not uncommon for the person playing the role of the minister to read the 23rd Psalm.

David likely had no idea that this passage would continue to be such a source of strength for believers roughly 3,000 years after he wrote it. As he sat in the field watching the sheep under his care graze for food, he started drawing a comparison between his relationship with his sheep and the way that God cared for him.


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In John 10:11, Jesus elaborated on the point made by David approximately 1,000 years earlier when He declared that He was the Good Shepherd.

You have probably read the 23rd Psalm before. Even if you haven’t, it’s a safe assumption that you have heard sermons, lessons, and songs that revolve around these powerful six verses of Scripture.

Today, let’s take a new approach to this beautiful passage by praying the promises contained in it over our own lives.

Pray These Verses

Psalm 23 (NIV)

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside the 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.

Before we dive into praying these verses over our own lives, let’s take a look at what David is really saying. David wrote this passage while he was working as a shepherd.

Because of the intense love that he had for his flock, he was able to understand the loving care that God provides to the “sheep of His pasture” (Psalm 100:3).

First, David acknowledged that the Shepherd meets all the needs of the sheep. Sheep are widely considered unintelligent animals, which means that having a shepherd who will provide for them is crucial to their survival.

One of the most effective ways for the Shepherd to care for his sheep involves constantly leading them to areas where there is fresh grass to eat and fresh water to drink. Everywhere that the Shepherd leads the sheep is for their benefit.

The term “for his name’s sake” is an important part of this Psalm. Shepherds who didn’t properly care for their sheep were mocked by others in Old Testament society.

Seeing a flock that was well cared for was a positive reflection on the shepherd. God puts us in a position to thrive so we can point others to His love.

Sheep blindly trust the shepherd. If the shepherd leads the sheep through a valley, they go with him. Why? Because they know that they don’t have to be afraid. The shepherd is with them. We can have the same assurance because we know that the Shepherd is with us wherever we go.

The preparation of a table in the presence of enemies combines the principles of protection and provision. The shepherd leading the sheep to a pasture to eat doesn’t mean that there aren’t predators there.

However, the sheep don’t fear predators because they know that they are protected. Following the leading of God doesn’t mean that the enemy isn’t still there, but we can rest assured that we are protected when we’re in God’s presence.

When a sheep strays away from the flock, the shepherd pursues it. Even if he is frustrated by its wandering, he pursues the sheep with goodness and love. That’s how God pursues us.

Even when we’re at our most unlovable points in life, God pursues us with His goodness and His love. Because of that, we can dwell in His house forever.

Pray This Prayer

Heavenly Father, I know that You are my provider and my protector. Because of Your provision in my life, I lack nothing. You lead me into the places where You want me so I can prosper, and so I can glorify Your name and point others towards You.

Father, You know that there are times when I’m afraid of what lies ahead. Even when I know that You are leading me, I sometimes feel overwhelmed with fear. Help me to overcome those fears as I seek to fully place my trust in You.

Thank You for protecting me while You provide for me. Even when the enemy prowls around me, I know that You will keep me safe from harm. While I try my hardest to stay connected to Your flock, there are times when I stray.

Pursue me in those moments, God. I want to be in Your flock and want You to be my Shepherd all the days of my life. In Christ’s name, Amen.

Thank God

Heavenly Father, thank You for being the Good Shepherd in my life. Thank You for the power of Your protection that allows me to rest in the knowledge that You are for me.

Thank You for providing all my needs and many of my wants. I know that every good thing in my life is the result of Your goodness. Thank You for pursuing me when I’ve strayed, and for loving me at my most unlovable moments.

Thank You for the promise that I can spend eternity with You in the place that You have prepared for me. In Christ’s name, Amen.

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