The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. James 5:16 NLT
We continue our series on being identified with Christ, and on prayer as a key component of that walk. Prayer is communication for Christians. And God loves it when we pray His word back to Him. So let’s start there.
So many places to start. So little time. Let’s begin, then, with the Psalms. The Psalms are poems. Often set to music, they were the “hymnal” of the Second Temple (516 BC to 70 AD). God’s word in the Psalms represents the panoply of humans relationship with their God, from presence to absence, from joy to sorrow, from praise to lament. The New Bible Dictionary puts it this way: “Here are mirrored the ideals of religious piety and communion with God, of sorrow for sin and the search for perfection, of walking in darkness, unafraid, by the lamp of faith; of obedience to the law of God, delight in the worship of God, fellowship with the friends of God, reverence for the Word of God; of humility under the chastening rod, trust when evil triumphs and wickedness prospers, serenity in the midst of storm.”
In the Judeo-Christian tradition, few Psalms resonate as loudly as the 23rd Psalm. This Psalm Of David includes the image of the the Lord as a Shepherd who cares for the sheep. This image would have been instantly recognizable to the Israelites from everyday experience. So the image of God as the shepherd for Israel, and the shepherd for each faithful Israelite, would have made perfect sense. And because David,”a man after God’s own heart,” had experienced and proven the great mercies of God in manifold times and ways, he held a fully confident assurance that God would continue the very same goodness towards him forever.
God has heard this prayer from a thousand voices over a thousand years. Well, actually more than that. But we know God never tires of hearing from His creation. And He will never have heard it in the way you will pray it today.
1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. KJV