When I was five my mother taught me the 23rd Psalm. She told me to repeat it in bed whenever I had bad dreams. Perhaps ongoing repetitions lulled me back to sleep; I doubt I knew about “shepherds” or how they “maketh me lie down in green pastures”.
Now, many years later, I am finding ongoing treasures in this Psalm, different in life seasons. This week, during a time of emotional heaviness, I read, as if for the first time, the 3rd verse,
“He restores my soul”
Other versions read:
“He refreshes my soul”
“He renews my strength”
“He revives my life”
“He brings back my soul”
I began praying for the Lord to restore and heal my soul and believe in His promise to do it.
Intellectual memorizing and reciting scripture is often the death blow to the life giving power of God’s words. This foundational practice of formal religions effectively squelches the Holy Spirit. The “Lord’s Prayer”, often spoken and sung as one long sentence, grants a feeling of piety but hardly ‘connects’ with the Lord. How many people ‘pray’ that prayer and really expect an answer?
Evangelicals also limit the freedom of the Holy Spirit by endlessly using one verse, John 3:16, as if that alone is all that need be said. But we serve a personal God that reaches every person differently. Jesus never repeated the same words verbatim to everyone He met yet His words were healing, provoking, convicting and powerful – delivered differently, depending on who He was addressing and what was needed to be said!
Any verse can become a ‘mantra’. I’m asking today for a newness in scripture reading, where I’m not predicting the next verse from memory but prayerfully opening my heart to a newness from the Holy Spirit. I want His word to actually be for me…
“…living and active. Sharper than any two edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit….”
“Lord, shake our hearts in these last days. Let every ‘formula’ in our prayer to and sharing of You fall to the ground. Today as we open Your word, let us see it as “living and active” and personal. Inspire us and refresh us with a personal word for others that they may hunger to know You as well. Lead us, Lord, to joyously dig beyond the surface….”
“For the Lamb on the throne will be their Shepherd. He will lead them to springs of life-giving water. And God will wipe every tear from their eyes.” (Rev 7:17)
“Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; For the Lord God is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation. Therefore you will joyously draw water from the springs of salvation.” (Isaiah 12:2-3)
(Springs: “a place where water wells up from an underground, unseen source”)