Old Prayers and New
It was a Muddy and Henry Day. It was a day filled with the playground, swings, monkey bars, grilled cheese at the kitchen counter, quiet time with a stack of books on the porch instead of naps, gravity discussions and illustrations with one uncle, girlfriend discussions with another uncle, counting by tens to 100, red-green-yellow light games – and the Twenty-third Psalm. I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty action-packed for a three-year-old day. . . it was the psalm discussion that went straight to my heart.
As we were driving, I asked him to repeat after me,
“The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.”
You could have heard crickets from the back. When he doesn’t understand what you’re saying, he says nothing – which, for him, is rare. I tried again, thinking about synonyms and word pictures for a three-year-old – and phrased to three-year-old word bites: “Let’s pray, ‘God is my shepherd.'”
“What’s a shepherd?” he asked.
“A shepherd takes care of sh-e-e-e-ep,” I answered, baaaing for good three-year-old effect. “God is like a shepherd taking care of His sheep. He leads them to the where the good water is to drink.”
“I don’t want water,” he said. He would rather have had milk, lots of milk.
“The shepherd takes them to where the good grass is to eat – because sheep like grass like you like oranges. He finds them a safe place to sleep at night. He protects them from the wolves and coyotes. If they get lost, he finds them.
He was still listening, so I explained a little further, “. . . and when the sheep get hurt, he fixes their boo-boos – like how God put a band-aid on your boo-boo last night while you slept.”
“Can you pray with me?” I asked, hopeful. “God is my Shepherd. . .”
“No Muddy! God is MY shepherd,” Henry interrupted before I could say more – and, yes, my heart both melted and over-flowed at once.
When they’re with me in the car on their Mother’s Day Out mornings, they’ll either say their morning prayer with Papaw – or we’ll pray portions of The Twenty-Third Psalm, but we’ll say it in a way a little boy can visualize:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.”
~ Psalm 23: 1-2
“God is like a shepherd
taking care of His sheep.
He leads them to the where
the good water is to drink.”
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.” ~ Psalm 23: 3
God is like a shepherd
who knows all the good paths
that make me strong and wise.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.”
Psalm 23: 4
When I’m scared, He sits with me,
though I may not see Him,
and He protects me, comforts me,
and helps me smile when I don’t feel
“You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.”
~ Psalm 23:5
He puts plates filled with chicken
and orange slices, strawberries
and green beans on the table
for me to eat
and gives me a hat to wear that shows
how special I am to him,
and it protects me
from the sun and the rain,
and things that grab at my hair.
He makes life so much better!
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
~ Psalm 23:6
My shepherd loves me
and has good plans to take good care of me
even when I grow up and become a Papaw.
One day, when I’m old, I’ll get to go live in His house
and his house is better than Muddy and Papaw’s
and Mommy and Daddy’s house.
There’s a lot of creative license in the way I lead my grandson through how God is a shepherd to both of us. I usually pick one or two good points that seem good for the day. . . I want him to know how very much God knows him and loves him. Knowing and loving my shepherd as a child growing guided my paths, protected my heart in sore challenges, and was a constant source of hope. I don’t think I taught my sons to pray this way – to visualize, to know, to make the words come alive when they read them, when they pray them. Prayer has been a journey – this knowing how to talk to God, moving beyond the awkwardness of having a conversation and not knowing what the other person thinks of you, thinking any word could make or break a relationship, that you don’t really belong on the inside to one day knowing you are a beloved child and in the knowing, understand His deep, caring, liberating love – and love that cares enough to shepherd, cares enough to pull you out of your messes and always sees you as beautiful, valuable. . . His. It filled my heart that morning hearing this little grandson prayer – this new little three-year-old prayer learning how to talk to God.
“Prayer is the way you defeat the devil,
reach the lost,
restore a backslider,
strengthen the saints,
send missionaries out,
cure the sick,
accomplish the impossible,
and know the will of God.”
~ David Jeremiah
While my grandson is a new prayer (a person who prayers), I’m a pretty old prayer whose prayer-life is constantly being renewed as I draw closer to my shepherd. He’s still teaching me more about prayer. Resolutions are man-made ideas. Maybe that’s why they so often result in failure. I’ve come to realize that God has plans to grow me, with His methods and His style of classroom. Last year’s class? Redeeming Prayer. The year before? Selfless Prayer. I was really hoping for something new. Something different. A third year in prayer seemed at first like I was just spinning my wheels until realization unfolded that my prayer life had only been scratching the surface. I don’t quite know what to call this year, but it’s another year about prayer. I still cannot pin-point the thesis of the lesson, but I do know I need to show up everyday. . . because if I don’t show up, I cannot move forward in what God is trying to teach me.
“The prayer power has never been tried to its full capacity…if we want to see mighty wonders of divine power and grace wrought in the place of weakness, failure and disappointment, let us answer God’s standing challenge, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not.”” ~ Hudson Taylor
In my showing up, I’ve been turning over the 23rd Psalm – and what that looks like to me, right now – right where I am in my life. If personalizing prayer is good for a three-year-old, it just might be good for an almost-sixty-year-old. I worked through a version for me of just what kind of shepherd God has been for me – and it involves remembering, praising, thanking, trusting:
The Creator of the Universe,
Thank you for being. . .
The Constant in an Inconstant World
Who Redeems me from the Pile of Abandoned Souls,
The Shepherd who Never Leaves Me Behind
When I Go Too Slow
The Keeper of My Tears and The True Reason
for their Falling.
He is the Safe Place Beneath His Wing,
The Shade in the Heat of the Challenge,
The Hand that Frees Me from The Thicket,
The Shepherd’s Staff that Guides Me
to The Good Paths,
The Finder of All the Good Places to Rest
The Master of The Feast who Sets a Place for Me
at His Table,
The Designer of My Soul’s Potential,
The Shoulders that Carry Me Home,
He is The House Where Joy and Belonging Live,
The Lover of My Soul!
New prayers and old prayers – we’re both digging deeper, learning more about talking to our shepherd, our father, our God!
Remember Me Monday: #74 & Link-up
“I’ll make a list of God’s gracious dealings,
all the things God has done that need praising,
All the generous bounties of God,
his great goodness to the family of Israel—
. love extravagant.”
~ Isaiah 63:7, The Message
In the Old Testament, God repeatedly, quietly and loudly, tells his children, “You have forgotten me!” (Jeremiah 3:32, Ezekiel 22:12, to name a few). It’s a heart cry from a father to a child who has forgotten all the love, all the saving, helping, little and big blessings – and it leaves me stunned when I realize our Father, the creator of the universe, who knows things I cannot begin to fathom, who authors storylines that leave me amazed, delights in all of us so much, He cries out, “Remember Me.”
While every day is a Remember God Day, I am inviting you to join me on Monday mornings to come by and remember what God has done for you, for your family. Maybe God sent a cardinal darting out in front of you, as if to tell you, “I’m here,” or broke a child’s fever after you laid it all down at His feet in a 2 a.m. bedside vigil. Maybe He stood with you in the wait of a prayer sent out, or brought someone you loved to Christ. Maybe He healed your broken heart, gave your courage, or you gave Him your dreams as a love offering only to have Him give them back in an unimaginable way. Maybe God helped you survive to bedtime after a crazy Monday, or forgive yourself for missing it with your kiddos –– Whatever it is, let’s Remember Him. . . in a “Remember Me Monday” love letter.
“My mouth will tell of your righteousness,
Of your salvation all the day long,
Though I know not its measure.
I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, O Sovereign Lord”
~ Psalm 71:15-16.
Let us delight in Him by telling the stories of what He’s done! If you wrote a blog post remembering what He’s done for you, join the linky. If you didn’t but still want to praise Him for what He’s done – write it in the comment section. Then visit a comment before or after yours! One of the beautiful things about the blogging community is the relationships it builds!
Rules? Write long or short, a list or a story, include photos or not. Just Remember Him and what He has done, and let the gratitude of your heart guide you. Let’s make Monday so Rejoice, that the goodness of God spills into the rest of the week!
If are having trouble linking, the linky service recommends to do the following: use [Photo] FROM FILE ” if it will not generate automatically.
Places I’m Linking at This Week:
Inspire Me Monday, Instaencouragements,
Legacy Link-Up, Recharge Wednesday
Faith on Fire, Tell His Story, Grace&Truth
Let’s Have Coffee Wednesday Celebrate Your Story
Scripture&Snapshot, Sunday Scripture Blessings
Maryleigh, this is so precious for so many reasons. So many prayers on my heart for varied loved ones right now. So very grateful our Father hears and tends to each prayer. Both the David Jeremiah and Hudson Taylor quotes are pure gold! And the days spent with our grandchildren bring so many wonderful lessons!
Your post on salt spoke to me – like you said, so many prayers on my heart, too – for varied loved ones! I am so glad we lift each other up by sharing what God speaks to our hearts!
Oh, so beautiful! I love those dear little Grandboy prayers! Maybe this is the year of child-like prayers? After all, Jesus told us that if we wanted to come to Him, we must first become like little children, so dear to His heart. Thank you for stirring my heart this morning, dear friend!
Oh – I like that Bettie – The Year of the Child-Like prayers – and children are truthful and go straight to the point. Turning this thought over sweet friend! Maybe God’s lesson for me was more simple than I realized!
So sweet! When I taught my grandson ‘s Sunday school class, we learned the 23rd Psalm together. Wonderful truth!
I love how children see things – hearts that grasp so often what grown-ups struggle to understand.
Maryleigh, I love your grandchild’s prayer. It is so easy for a young one to understand. What a beautiful personalized prayer.
Thank you, Paula! I’m always trying to find a way to talk about God in ways different people can understand – I find it’s easier sometimes with children than with teenagers or adults – I think children are more willing to believe – maybe because, as Dickens said, they are still so soon from God.
You know that is so true what Dickens said.
I’m smiling as I read this because I just wrote a piece on a verse from Psalm 23:3. God’s Word is a constant source of blessing, healing, and hope!
Psalm 23 seems written to the God-designed DNA of every soul – and is so full of love, compassion – and, like you say, blessing, healing, and hope.
I just love your time with the little ones as it always gives me joy, peace and love as I read your interactions. And Psalm 23 is precious always! I learned a number of years ago about sheep and shepherds, writing about them at Being Woven. I still am learning. Always learning.
Take care, Maryleigh, and know I love you, ~ linda
Maryleigh, I LOVE how you made Psalm 23 so personalized for your grandson. What a sweet way to help him see God as the Shepherd who loves and provides for him. And what a beautiful reminder of how I can pray and keep things personal with the Good Shepherd.
Such a beautiful glimpse into our Father’s heart! You’re a godly grandmother who is teaching her grandson the way that he should go! I like the Child-like prayer heartbeat.
I love your wording of Psalm 23. It works for us big kids too. 🙂 It’s one of my favorite and most quoted Psalms that I repeat in my head (and heart) again and again. Blessings to you for passing this on to your littles.