Before You Pray

Before You Pray

There are two foundations of scriptures that often become the very words we say when we are in need of comfort, or an answer from God. The 23rd Psalms and The Lord’s Prayer.

The 23rd Psalm is perhaps the best-known and most-loved portion of all Scripture. It contains only six verses and 117 words, yet it has comforted, strengthened, and directed multiplied millions of people.

A Psalm of David. 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 thouart 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. (Psalms 23:1-6, KJV)

The Lord’s Prayer is not often known by it’s book, chapter or verse, but it contains the very words of Jesus on how one is to pray. It contains only 5 verses and 66 words, yet every Christian has been schooled in these words.

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.  (10)  Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.  (11)  Give us this day our daily bread.  (12)  And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.  (13)  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. (Matthew 6:9-13, KJV)

As we look at these two favorite scriptures, it is my hope that you will see something that perhaps you’ve not seen before.

The Lord Is

David starts the first half of the first verse of the 23rd Psalm by simply saying, “The Lord is…” If it stopped there, it would be enough for me. The Lord is… The Lord exists…. The Lord reigns. God is in His heaven and all is well with the world.

Our Father

Jesus begins His words with a simple phrase, “Our Father…” Again, if stopped there we would be content with knowing that we have a father who is watching over us and available to us if we would but go to Him.

But, He goes on – Who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom Come. Thy Will be done. On earth as it is in heaven.

And, as with David, God is in His heaven and all is well with the world.

But Then…

David says, “The Lord is my shepherd.” Not a shepherd or even the shepherd, Good Shepherd that He is. But David emphasizes the fact that the Lord is a personal shepherd. He is my shepherd. Therefore, because He is a personal shepherd, “I shall not want.” (I shall have no needs…)

Why? The shepherd provides all the provisions that a sheep has need of!

Jesus then moves into a similar concept, of God being in the position of Giving us what our needs are in a simple fashion – “Give us this day our daily bread”

But David brings five facts in rapid succession, and you could liken them to the “daily bread” of the Lord’s Prayer.

  • “He makes me lie down in green pastures…”
  • “He leads me beside the still waters…”
  • “He restores my soul…”
  • “He leads me in the paths of righteousness…”
  • “He does all of this for His name’s sake…”

As a child of God I have taken His name in baptism and because of and for the sake of His name, He leads me.

The Sudden Shift

Though these things are important, there is another shift in David’s words that I want to focus on..

Consider the change of direction with how he moves from “He” to the word, “Thou.” David declares, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for Thou are with me.”

David’s description of his shepherd in verses 1-3 went like this: He makes me…He leads me…He restores me…He leads me… for His name’s sake. But beginning in verse 4 the shift is to a personal pronoun. Now David says:

  • You are with me…
  • Your rod and your staff, they comfort me…
  • You prepare a table before me…
  • You anoint my head with oil…

I cannot help but wonder what has happened here. Why the sudden change from the simple pronoun to the personal pronoun? Why the change of talking about God, to talking to God

Let me say what my entire premise is today…

Before you go to God because you are walking in a valley, You should spend time reminding yourself of who you are talking to!

David leaves the “green pastures” and “still waters” and “paths of righteousness” and moves into a “valley”. Often, valleys are considered to be places of trial and testing. Just as David had his valleys and so do we! “Valley” is quickly followed by a string of words that paint a potentially perilous picture. “Shadow,”  “Death,”  “Evil”  “Enemies.” David has transitioned from sunshine to shadow, from pleasant thoughts to perhaps dire circumstances.

Yet, in the midst of all of these things, David seems to have no fear. How can you face life’s circumstances without fear or trepidation? How? Because you declare that “…thou art with me.”

This is the purpose of my writing today!

Before you go to God because of all the evil you are being bombarded with… Spend time reminding yourself who the answer to your troubles are! Just as David and Jesus both teach about putting God first in the prayer, we need to do this to build our faith that regardless of the circumstances we are faced with – God is still on the throne and He is With Us!

No matter what I may have to face in this life, “Thou art with me!” Sickness, troubles, storms, trials, loss, death or any troubling situation – “Thou art with me!

He Is With Us At All Times

When Paul was in the Roman jail, he declared to Timothy:

“No one stood by me the first time I defended myself; all deserted me. May God not count it against them! But the Lord stayed with me and gave me strength, so that I was able to proclaim the full message for all the Gentiles to hear; and I was rescued from being sentenced to death” (2 Timothy 4:16-17, TEV)

We have the same promise from the Lord. No matter where we go or what we, one thing is for sure – the Lord will be with us! This is the difference maker in each and every trying situation.

The Lord has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5)The original Greek actually says this more strongly than the KJV translation – “I will never, never leave you, and never, never, never forsake you.”

He promised in Matthew 28:20…

“I am with you all the days (perpetually, uniformly, and on every occasion), to the [very] close and consummation of the age. Amen (so let it be).” [From the Amplified version].

You have a perpetual promise from your Lord and Savior that He will be with you!

  • God lovingly assures us: “Fear not, for I am with you.”
  • My faith response should be: “I will not fear, for You are with me.”

Keep looking, reading and studying the very word of Jesus… There’s hope and promise!

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.  (10)  Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.  (11)  Give us this day our daily bread.  (12)  And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.  (13)  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. (Matthew 6:9-13, KJV)

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