Martin Luther and Dietrich Bonhoeffer both assert we are wise to pray the psalms. Bonhoeffer writes with real passion about the fact Jesus would have learned the psalms as his prayer book during his upbringing in Nazareth. It is, therefore, easy to imagine Jesus was praying psalms when the disciples from time to time searched for Jesus and found him praying.
Yesterday, April 17, our pastor preached from Psalm 23, and he repeated the suggestion we pray the psalms. That is why I offer this personalized prayer of Psalm 23.
In order to make this psalm personal, I inserted my own name everywhere the psalmist referred to himself.
1 The Lord is Katherine’s shepherd; Katherine shall not want.
2 He makes Katherine lie down in green pastures.
He leads Katherine beside still waters.
3 He restores Katherine’s soul.
He leads Katherine in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though Katherine walks through the valley of the shadow of death,
Katherine will fear no evil,
for you are with Katherine;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort Katherine.
5 You prepare a table before Katherine
in the presence of Katherine’s enemies;
you anoint Katherine’s head with oil;
Katherine’s cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow Katherine
all the days of Katherine’s life,
and Katherine shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalm 23, edited to personalize the prayer
This Psalm can be prayed for other people as well. You could pray, “O Lord, you are my daughter’s shepherd,” and continue in that vein, praying for your daughter’s peace and well-being. Or you could pray for your church, or even your nation. The possibilities are endless.
The daily news is enough to give anyone a heart attack. The gibberish that passes for political and social commentary could easily tie your understanding of reality in knots. You know you need to pray in order to keep in touch with God, but sometimes the words do not flow out naturally. Sometimes the stress or the confusion, or the emotional maelstrom stirred up by events simply overwhelm your verbal capacity. Such times are good occasions to pray a psalm.
Try inserting your name where I have inserted my name. Pray Psalm 23 in the most personal way. It is a wonderful way to let hope in God and God’s worldview shape your outlook and even your emotional well-being. Praying this psalm will open your heart and mind to the work of the Holy Spirit, who will comfort you with peace and strength that will build your courage to face whatever is happening in your world today.
By Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love available for Kindle at Amazon.com. Watch for the release of Thrive! Live Christian in a Hostile World, planned for release in the summer of 2016.