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Psalm 23

Wouldn’t life be better if we didn’t have to deal with the debilitating fear that Satan tries to put on us every day? Life would be easier if we did not have to handle fear that is intended to keep us from having  peace, love and power that God wants us to have.  If you have ever struggled, as I do with anxiety, then you are familiar with the worry, stress, and the feeling of heaviness that comes with it.

Many people struggle with fear that has no obvious cause or source. They wonder why they are always afraid and can’t change, no matter how hard they try. Others worry constantly about what might happen. “What if”…is their favorite phrase. The endless list of possible tragedies flows from their lips and keeps these unfortunate people bound up and miserable.

We need to learn to resist fear when it rises against us.  Throughout the bible God tells us that he has given us a spirit of power, love, and sound judgement. He talks about abilities that result in a calm, well balanced mind, and self-control. Sometimes we think of fear as an emotion, but we need to realize fear is actually a spirit. In fact, I believe fear is one of Satan’s favorite tools, and he particularly loves to torment Christians with it. At every possible opportunity, he will whisper in your ear, telling you God has forgotten you and there is no hope.

Growing up I am sure many of you said your prayers with your parents at night.  In my household we always said the Lord’s Prayer and the typical Now I lay me…, but we also said a third prayer which was Psalm 23.  It certainly wasn’t a typical daily prayer I am sure in most households, and in true catholic fashion it was simply  something I said by rote memory and never really thought about. 

 I never understood the importance of it until I was older and had to read that prayer to a packed church at my 16-year-old niece’s funeral.  That day that Psalm become an anchor to my faith and my core.

 I have read this psalm at both of my brother’s funerals, My sisters funeral, another nieces funeral and both of my parent’s.   But this not simply a psalm for when I am walking through the valley of death it is a  Psalm that deals with the realities of life. When I face difficult circumstances or decisions in my life this is the Psalm I cling to.  When I am losing heart or having to Face my enemy this is the psalm I repeat over and over until my heart believes it .  

This psalm has been my encouragement throughout my lifetime and has been encouraging others for more than 3,000 years.  It is a prayer that I have passed onto my children. It brings strength, hope comfort and courage to me on the daily. 

When I was a therapist, I had a client come into my office.  She suffered from severe anxiety, and it was starting to affect her physical health. After talking for a while, I pulled out a pad and wrote her prescription.  I told her if she went to the doctor, they would give her a prescription and that is what I wanted to do too.  I instructed her to take this prescription exactly as I wrote it; five times a day for one week.  It read:  read Psalm 23 prayerfully and carefully. When you wake up, before each meal and at bedtime read this psalm.  When she returned the next week she appeared to be a different  person.  

The power of the Shepard’s psalm is a prescription for the problems and pressures of our day. One of things that we certainly need if we are going to have a life worth living is a faith in something that is big enough for life.  The promise pf Psalm 23  is that we will have everything we really need for a life worth living: 

I grow tired… he restores my soul

I’m anxious…thy rod and the staff will comfort me

I fear death… I will dwell in the house of the Lord


Psalm 23:4 says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for you are with me: your rod and your staff they comfort and console me.” The psalmist David who wrote this Psalm said he walked through the valley. When we fear or become afraid, we can be sure that’s not God at work, but one of the sly tricks of our enemy.  If he can make us think that God is not going to help us, we’ll start to lose the battle.

When Psalm 23:2 says that he makes us lie down in green pastures and leads us beside still and quiet waters, it reminds me that God wants us to have peace. In order to do that, we need to stop running and simply make a decision to be still, face our fears and receive healing from God.  As long as we are running, something is chasing us, but if we confront it with God by our side, we can defeat it and enjoy the life that is ours, the life God wants us to have

Psalm 23 reminds us that God stands ready to be our Shepard if we only let him. God is not a distant God. We are not left alone to fend for ourselves in this world. We have a Shepard who loves us and cares for us, who provides for us and guides us and who protects us. He always watches over us and all we need to do is follow him. 

God is love! We can never say this enough. Fear is a spirit that must be confronted head on- it will not leave on its own. We need to proclaim the Word of God and command fear to leave.  So, the next time fear knocks on your door, send faith to answer it!