This past Sunday we worshiped together with the ancient four-fold pattern the church has used for centuries, and that we’ll be using when we gather for worship.
The scripture readings focused on the Easter reality of God as our shepherd, and the homily centered on Psalm 23. We proclaimed the good news that God generously gives us his presence that changes our perception, even in the midst of scarcity, suffering, and strife.
As a way of living into this reality, I’m encouraging us to practice a prayer exercise every day this week. It’s a prayer liturgy from Psalm 23 that will take you 10-20 minutes to do every morning (you can do it another time, but there are powerful benefits to praying first thing in the morning, before you begin your day.)
Oh, by the way, you’ll need to pray this out loud. (Seriously, it makes a huge difference.)
You can download a one-page PDF of the prayer liturgy to print out if you like.
Or you can read it below:
Psalm 23 Prayer Liturgy
Find a quiet, comfortable place where you can spend 10-20 minutes in prayer.
1. Pray Psalm 23
Pray through Psalm 23 out loud, speaking slowly and allowing the words to create images in your imagination. Go slowly enough that it takes you at least 5 minutes to get to the end.
Use your favorite translation, or the one below:
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
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 overflows.
Surely your goodness and love
will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Now, notice if there are particular phrases your attention seems to be drawn toward. Perhaps repeat these phrases several times, allowing your mind to focus on the reality they point to.
Then, spend at least 5 minutes in contemplation.
This means you are simply being with Jesus, your Good Shepherd. Don’t try to make anything happen. Just be with Jesus in silence and let him be with you as your Good Shepherd.
3. Closing Prayers
When you are ready to move on (at least 5 minutes in contemplation, but you are welcome to go longer!), end your time with the prayer of the week (4th Week of Easter) and the Lord’s Prayer:
O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people; Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who calls us each by name, and follow where he leads; who, with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For yours is the kingdom,
the power, and the glory, now and forever. Amen.