"What if God does not demand prayer as much as gives prayer? What if God wants prayer in order to satisfy us? What if prayer is a means of God nourishing, restoring, healing, converting us? Suppose prayer is primarily allowing ourselves to be loved, addressed and claimed by God. What if praying means opening ourselves to the gift of God’s own self and presence? What if our part in prayer is primarily letting God be giver? Suppose prayer is not a duty but the opportunity to experience healing and transforming love?"
It is with sadness we mark the death of Queen Elizabeth II. Many of you will have watched some of the pageantry. Very noticeable are the military guards of honour in their ceremonial uniforms. Just as we have seen these modern guards in uniform, in Paul’s day the people would have seen the Roman soldiers in their uniforms. Those ancient people would have been quite familiar with the image of a soldier equipped for battle. It was an inspired moment when Paul used the image of Roman armour to teach about spiritual armour. Paul’s idea was so good, that even today we can form a mental image of the armour of God based on the uniform of Roman soldiers.
We love Psalm 23 because of the rich poetic imagery that paints a spiritual landscape we feel we can step into. We love this Psalm because as Christians, we don’t see it in isolation, in a purely Old Testament setting, but we view it through the lens of the New Testament and the relationship we have with Jesus, the Good Shepherd. We could profitably lose ourselves in this Psalm, however, today I want to focus on verse four, particularly the image of the valley. “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.” (Psalm 23:4)