And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me. (Psalm 50:15)
O Lord! O Lord! O Lord!
To the child of God who truly knows the Lord and fears, loves, and trusts in Him above all things, this is a true prayer.
There have been times where I have found myself praying:
The Lord is my Shepherd.
The Lord is my Shepherd!
The Lord is my Shepherd!!
For me, one who has been baptized into Christ Jesus and into His death and resurrection, one who knows and communes in the Holy Communion of Christ’s body, one who knows what it truly means that the Lord is my Shepherd, this is a true and complete prayer.
I have prayed this way at various times when my heart was troubled and I could not attain peace. My spirit was overwhelmed by the many troubles popping up around me. My heart felt as though it was racing toward the point of exploding. My mind could not focus. I was in trouble.
With those five words, all of the Twenty-third Psalm was at my heart’s assistance. All of the doctrine of the Holy Scriptures was flowing through my heart, mind, and soul. The confidence of a good conscience was restored in connection with the name of the Lord, the name given to me, as God’s baptized child. All of the assurance and comfort of the Holy Communion surrounded me as these words reminded me of God’s promise that for Christ’s sake I am a true and worthy partaker of His body and blood and of all that these heavenly gifts convey.
This is why the true faith is of absolute necessity in the Church. This is why compromise of doctrine and practice are forbidden by Our God and Father, the Good Shepherd. We need to be free of doubt concerning our relationship to God, the relationship that exists purely by the reconciliation that is worked through the pure administration of the means of grace. When we know that we are truly members of Christ’s body, when we have rightly discerned the body of the Lord so that we commune in the confidence of His body and blood regularly, then in moments of weakness and fear our hearts know instinctively where to turn, just as a frightened child instinctively cries out, “Daddy. Daddy! Daddy!!”
Anyone can cry out. Anyone can cry out, “O Lord, help me!”
However, when the person has not feasted upon the steady and pure diet of the pure and unadulterated Gospel, the prayer is not a cry of true faith. It is a prayer mixed with doubt, which is a prayer that has no power, no effect. For such a prayer is not truly in the name and power of Jesus. Rather, it is in the confusion of the person’s jumbled beliefs. It is a prayer based upon the person’s own faith and feelings. The person’s own faith and feelings have already failed. That is why the desperate cry for help is needed in the first place. Turning back again to one’s own faith and feelings has no power to help.
But the prayer of faith, true faith, the faith that comes from hearing the pure Gospel, this prayer is powerful in its effect. Such a prayer is called the prayer of the righteous man, for it is in the name and by the faith of the one true Man of righteousness. Therefore this prayer cannot fail, even as Jesus cannot fail.
The true faith can be known with absolute certainty and this faith never fails, for it is not produced by one’s own reason and strength and is not worked by oneself, but it is the gift of God by His grace. This is why we can pray without doubting. This is why our prayers are effective. God’s faithfulness is the source of our confidence. God’s faithfulness is our hope.
This is why the Lord Jesus teaches us to pray with petitions that are statements of what God has declared rather than with petitions that flow from our own perspective and desires and thoughts. Recite the Our Father and try to find a question or a request. You won’t find one. What you will find is what God has already promised in Christ Jesus. This is why we are commanded to pray believing that we WILL receive what we ask in the name of Jesus. We are to pray according to what God has declared is His will. If we pray according to what He has already declared to be His will, where is there any room for doubt?
The Lord is my Shepherd.
I shall not want!
This is not wishful thinking. This is a statement of fact. If we truly understand all that this declares to us, it is all that we need in our times of trouble.
God’s peace to you all in Christ Jesus, the Lord!