A few months ago, I took the opportunity to begin reading through Timothy Keller’s book on the subject of prayer. It may seem strange, but as a pastor I’m sorry to say that the area of regular, consistent prayer is one of godly disciplines in which I lack.
As I began reading Keller’s book, however, I discovered that I’m not alone. He shared that even as a pastor, he struggled in this area for many years as well. And one of the things he did to begin praying more regularly was to summarize each of the Psalms (yes, all 150 of them!) into a short sentence or two. This then gave him the opportunity to go through each of his notes so that he could pray through the Psalms consistently.
I figured, why not. I’ll give that a try as well.
So every few days I’ve read a Psalm or two, summarized the principle being taught in my own words, and then written out a prayer.
Some examples so far include:
Psalm 1 – Those who delight in God’s word experience joy; those who do not experience condemnation and judgment.
Psalm 6 – No matter how hard the circumstances, we can remain confident that God hears our prayers.
Psalm 12 – The Lord’s promises are purer than pure; He protects the oppressed.
Psalm 19 – God’s wisdom is found all around us. In nature. In His word. In my life. In the lives of others.
All of these truths are great reminders.
But today I read Psalm 23. It’s perhaps one of the most well-known Psalms within our culture. It reads:
1 The LORD is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
2 He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
3 He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
4 Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
5 You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the LORD
As I read through it, however, one verse stuck out more than the others. It was verse 6. Take a brief opportunity to read through it again, but slowly.
“Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life.”
As I began to think through the implications of this passage, I felt compelled to do a bit more research. And it wasn’t long before I learned that the Hebrew word translated, ‘pursuit’, is only used in this context one time in the entirety of the Old Testament. In every other occurrence it’s used in the context of hostile enemies pursuing another in battle. But only here is it used with God’s goodness and faithfulness doing the pursuing.
David – despite sometimes questioning whether or not God heard his prayers, despite sometimes wondering why He couldn’t sense the presence of God in his life, despite sometimes responding to life circumstances in the worst possible way – he still somehow knew that God was pursuing him. David knew what it was like to pursue others in battle, and he knew what it was like to be pursued. And somewhere deep inside, God reminded David that He was pursuing him, relentlessly, with the most profound goodness and love.
Today, you may be wrestling through some of the same thoughts David wrestled with. You may be questioning whether God is hearing your prayers. You may be wondering why you sometimes can’t sense of the presence of God in your life. You may be responding to some of life’s circumstances in the worst possible way.
But, may you be reminded that God is pursuing you. He’s relentlessly pursuing you with His goodness and unfailing love. You may think you’re not worthy of it. (And oh, by the way, you’re not.) You may think you don’t deserve it. (And oh, by the way, you don’t.) But He’s pursuing you nevertheless.
How will you respond to His pursuit?