prayer for the sheep
Pray through Psalm 79, noting the pinnacle image: God’s people pictured as sheep. Watch for how the images build to this picture, and how it reflects meaning on the rest of the prayer.
Where do you need the Good Shepherd to guide you right now? How does seeing yourself as a dependent sheep reorient you to the faithfulness of God?
The Psalms are diverse prayers. The Psalter (the name for all the Psalms collected together) is a prayer and song book. Whatever we learn from a psalm, whatever questions raised or answers given—we must never forget that it is first a prayer. It contains intimate words spoken to God.
Psalms have been prayed to God for thousands of years. Israel prayed them. The church prays them. Christians in Hungary and Nigeria and Mexico pray them. When we pray these prayers, we join the faithful across time and history. With them, we echo our longing for God, our desperation for God to act, our belief that God is good and just and that He will treat us as dear children.
One of the constant images in the Psalms is that of God as the shepherd and we as sheep. God is our Shepherd. We’re dependent and in need. God is our Provider. God is trustworthy to care for us. So, we prayerfully affirm that, since God is the Shepherd, we “have all that [we] need” (Psalm 23:1).
And we’re the “sheep of [God’s] pasture” (Psalm 74:1). He leads us along the road, caring for us and guiding us “safely through the wilderness” (Psalm 78:52).
These prayers do not ask us to put on blinders, ignoring the “darkest valley” and the wilderness we encounter (Psalm 23:4, 78:52). Rather, these prayers invite us to joyfully affirm that, though darkness comes, we “will not be afraid” because the Good Shepherd stays (as good shepherds always do) “close beside” us (Psalm 23:4).
Prayer is the honest acknowledgment of life as it is and a faithful recentering to life as God makes (and will make) it to be. Prayer helps us sheep to follow our Shepherd.
NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: 1 Samuel 17:32-58
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