There are times in everyone’s life where we no doubt feel like we are fighting an uphill battle that just doesn’t seem to end. Add to that any additional burdens we carry up that hill, and we have a perfect recipe for weariness, discouragement, fatigue, and defeat. We may even look for the first exit door that we think might bring some relief.
Well, don’t go there (as in going through the exit door that we think might bring some relief) as it will most likely only lead to a dead end. Also, it’s too easy for others who are not going through our particular set of circumstances to advise us on what to do, like pray more, or read our Bible more, or (fill in the blank with any advice that just adds to our burden). We don’t need spiritual appeasement at these times; we need genuine help. That is not to say that there is anything wrong with praying more or reading our Bibles in search of help; but people often giving that advice are not walking in our shoes, and too often that advice comes off sounding trite or even “holier-than-thou” (not that they intentionally mean it to sound that way).
At the risk of sounding like I’m giving advice, I’m only stating something that I have found to be very valuable to me personally when anything comes along that I don’t know how to handle or know which direction to take. I don’t remember when I stumbled upon it but considering some of the challenges of the past decade, I have fallen back on it time and time and time again. In fact, at this time in my life it has become a daily prayer. It never gets old and it never fails to bring calm in a trying situation, and I mostly pray it silently at any time of the day or night with my eyes open or shut. It does not require any particular “formal stance” to pray it. It is not long, and I memorized it a long time ago. It even brings calm in the midst of situations that don’t seem to relate to the words in this particular psalm.
The 23rd Psalm is probably the most recognizable, the most memorized, and the most treasured psalm in the world. My favorite translation of this psalm is taken from the NKJV:
The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down
in green pastures;
He leads me beside
the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths
For His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through
the valley of the shadow of death,
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 runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy
shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell
in the house of the Lord
Thanks pretty much it. That’s what I pray when I don’t know what else to pray. I do personalize it by replacing “He” and “His” in the first few verses with “You” and “Your” (meaning “God”) as in “You, Lord, are my shepherd; I shall not want. You make me lie down in green pastures; You lead me beside the still waters. You restore my soul; You leads me in the paths of righteousness for Your name’s sake.“
The following is some information I found on Psalm 23 to include in this post. For example, I ran into a 8-part audio series produced by The Journey Church in New York City titled, “The 23rd Psalm: Releasing the Burdens You Were Never Intended to Bear,“ recorded in 2011. That 8-part audio series is available at this link. The opening statement to the series states: “This powerful Psalm written by David in the Old Testament has given comfort and inspiration to countless people throughout history” (quote source here). I have not listened to the audio series but offer it as a resource.
The Lord is my Shepherd (That’s Relationship!)
I shall not want (That’s Supply!)
He makes me lie down in green pastures (That’s Rest!)
He leads me beside the still waters (That’s Refreshment!)
He restores my soul (That’s Healing!)
He leads me in the paths of righteousness (That’s Guidance!)
For His name sake (That’s Purpose!)
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death (That’s Testing!)
I will fear no evil (That’s Protection!)
For You are with me (That’s Faithfulness!)
Your rod and Your staff they comfort me (That’s Discipline!)
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies (That’s Hope!)
You anoint my head with oil (That’s Consecration!)
My cup runs over (That’s Abundance!)
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life (That’s Blessing!)
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord (That’s Security!)
Forever (That’s Eternity!)
–Author Unknown (Quote source here.)
Year ago when I first heard that list above, I thought it was attributed to Dr. Charles Swindoll, pastor, author, educator, radio preacher, and founder of Insight for Living, but I could not locate an author for it from a Google search or on the link to the website where I found it. However, I did find in a February 2018 devotion titled, “In the Shepherd’s Care,“ by Dr. Swindoll the following that he had written on Psalm 23:
I shall not lack rest or provision—why? He makes me lie down in green pastures.
I shall not lack peace—why? He leads me beside quiet waters.
I shall not lack restoration or encouragement when I faint, fail, or fall—why? He restores my soul.
I shall not lack guidance or fellowship—why? He guides me in the paths of righteousness.
I shall not lack courage when my way is dark—why? Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil.
I shall not lack companionship—why? You are with me.
I shall not lack constant comfort—why? Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
I shall not lack protection or honor—why? You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
I shall not lack power—why? You have anointed my head with oil.
I shall not lack abundance—why? My cup overflows.
I shall not lack God’s perpetual presence—why? Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.
I shall not lack security—why? I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Quote source here.)
I hope this is a source of encouragement for whatever you may be going through right now. I’ll end this post with the last verse found in Psalm 121–verse 8: The Lord will watch over . . .
Your coming and going . . .
Both now . . .
And forevermore . . . .
YouTube Video: “Psalm 23” by The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir ft. Shane & Shane: