On the 6th of April 2020 Lana Vawser shared a dream that she had had where the Lord had said: “PRAY FOR PASTORS” (read her message here). God had laid upon my heart the same call last week but I was struggling to find the words to pray. I kept pressing in and as I read through Lana’s words I felt a spark of inspiration come. I was reminded of a picture that I found when I was studying Psalm 23:
This picture is titled: “Training The Young Shepherd” by Greg Sargent.
Jesus is the good Shepherd
As I reflected I was reminded that Jesus is the good Shepherd, He longs to teach us His ways so that we can love and care for those around us. Now I understand if shepherding is a bit of a foreign concept to you, I haven’t grown up on a farm so it was a bit of a strange concept to me also. But God has been showing things to me. I’m blessed to have a family shack up in the Central Highlands where I’ve seen firsthand a shepherd at work, I’ve watched the sheep swarm around us and slowly make their way from one paddock to the next. I remember one time as we made our way through the flock I saw the shepherd calmly walking along at the front whistling and calling to the sheep to follow him, which of course they did. As I watched I was reminded of the call to hear God’s voice, to know it and respond, to hear it and follow after Him (John 10:27). When we reached the end of the flock there was a ute with a trailer attached and in the trailer were a few sheep and a couple of lambs. That image stood out to me and I knew God was showing me that those who were too weak or sick to walk were being carried and cared for in the trailer. That spoke deeply to my heart and I felt such assurance that God was caring for me as He carried me through my own long and difficult journey. The things that God has shown me are reminders that Jesus is the good Shepherd, we can have a deep and personal relationship with Him; He is deeply concerned for our safety and will fight for us and defend us; Jesus has shown just how much He loves us by laying down His life (see John 10:11-18).
Here is another aspect: “THE HEART OF A SHEPHERD” by Gary Wilkerson
Most of my life I had a rather distorted concept of shepherds. When I heard Bible stories about the shepherd David, I pictured him sitting on a rock, playing his harp and watching the sheep as they quietly grazed around him. But I got a completely different picture of shepherds when I observed them firsthand in Romania a few years ago. These hard-working men were constantly searching for places with fresh grass to eat and water to drink. They were up early in the morning, leading the sheep and tending to their needs, and returned after a full day of wandering, usually working at least fourteen-hour days.
David is a perfect example of a shepherd-warrior — one who could fight, nurture and sing at the same time. The heart of a shepherd is unselfish, willing to give up his own life for his sheep. Also, the heart of a shepherd is protective and sacrificial. Often enemy prey threatens the sheep and the shepherd must be on alert at all times. David told King Saul when he was wanting to fight the giant Goliath: “Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth” (1 Samuel 17:34-35).
This is definitely not a shepherd who was taking long naps in the afternoon sun, strumming on his harp and taking it easy. No, he was alert and ready to do battle. And David was an amazing warrior. He went from victory to victory with a singing heart.
God does not make us just warriors, he also makes us worshippers. He causes us to sing regardless of what the enemy throws at us. David had a song when the lions came at him and when bears threatened him because he knew how to encourage himself in the Lord. He sang: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want … He restores my soul” (Psalm 23:1-3).
Can I trust Jesus?
It can be hard to understand a loving and caring Shepherd if we’ve experienced leaders or people in authority take advantage of us. If we have been deeply wounded we can struggle to trust. Today I want you to know that Jesus is a very good and trustworthy shepherd because He is protective and sacrificial. I believe that Jesus can heal the deepest wounds and I pray that He does that right now as you reach out to Him. You can say a simple prayer such as: “Jesus You’re revealed as a loving and caring Shepherd, but I’ve been hurt and I cannot fathom that concept. Please come and heal my wounds, tenderly care for me. Help me to hear Your voice, to trust You and to respond to Your call. Lead me, guide me and protect me I pray. Amen.”
This call to pray for pastors is one that we MUST answer, now more than ever our pastors need our prayers. The following prayer is for parishioners (us in the congregation), it has been a 3-day wrestle to put this together as I agonised over every sentence and awoke in the early hours of the morning thinking about it. Today (8th April) I knew that I just had to trust that the Holy Spirit would help me with the final draft, do my best and trust.
As you pray I invite you to place yourself in the picture I shared, imagine sitting next to Jesus and allow Him to speak to you. Modify this prayer as you need and also look at the prayer points Lana mentions.
Almighty God I thank You for Your marvellous mercy, I surrender myself to You afresh to be Your sacred living sacrifice. May I live a holy life that brings delight to Your heart and honour to Your name. Help me to stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the perverse culture around me, to no longer be tempted by its superficial values and customs. I ask for the Holy Spirit to once again transform and progressively change the way that I think and respond, empowering me to discern God’s will and live out His plans and purpose for my life (Romans 12:1-2). Jesus always stay close to me, instruct and guide me along the pathway of Life. Advise me and may Your eyes be my guide. Help me to be a good disciple by never making Your job, or my pastor’s, difficult by being stubborn and rebellious. When I’m taken on paths that are unfamiliar, help me to respond appropriately and not make you or my pastor be forced to tug or coerce me along, let me willingly and openly follow (Psalm 32:8-9).
Jesus I pray for my pastors, a beautiful husband and wife team that I admire so much. I ask for them to encounter You as the Good Shepherd in a fresh and vibrant way; that they will experience Jesus lovingly and tenderly caring for them; and leading them through this difficult time. I pray for them to receive a refreshing and a reviving. Lord I praise You that my pastors heard Your call to lead Your precious people and responded. Offer to them a resting place in Your luxurious love; take them to an oasis of peace, the quiet brook of bliss; restore and revive their lives; renew their minds and revive their bodies.
I pray for my pastors and pastors all around the world, those who have been entrusted to care and guide God’s people, Lord If they have become lost and off-track please rescue them and place them back on-track. Remind them Who You are, Lord, open up to them a pathway where they can sit in God’s splendour, lead them in Your footsteps of righteousness so that they can bring much glory and honour to God. Redeem and realign; revive and refresh; renew and restore them. Remind them that You’re Immanuel, You’re with them each and every step of the way, leading them through the valley of deepest darkness. Jesus let Your great love wash over them which dispels ALL fear, and let Your authority be their strength and peace. Prepare a table, a feast of delight, for them in the presence of their enemies. Anoint them afresh with the fragrance of the Holy Spirit; may they drink of the Living fountain until their hearts overflow. Remind them that they have NO need to fear the future, for Your goodness and love pursues them all the days of their lives. When their time on earth is done, they will hear the words: “well done good and faithful servant” and remain in Your glorious presence forevermore! Hallelujah!
Praise the Lord, for He is the Good Shepherd that loves and cares for each and every one of His lambs (God’s people). Praise the Lord, for He is the Good Shepherd that laid down His life. Praise the Lord, for He is the Good Shepherd that is alive and active, ready and willing to assist. Praise the Lord, for He is the Good Shepherd that hears our cries and responds. Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!
As I prepared this and read through Gary Wilkerson’s word I was reminded that we are worshipping warriors and a few songs came to mind:
– God is Able – Hillsong Worship
– Saviour, Like a Shepherd – Leigh Nash
– The King of Love My Shepherd – Maranatha! Hymns
– The Lord is My Shepherd – Jeremy Riddle
– The Lord’s My Shepherd – Elevation
– Shepherd – Bethel Music feat. Amanda Cook
– Psalm 23 – Central Music
I’ve created this in a playlist which you can listen to via YouTube.
Cover Image from Pixabay
“Training The Young Shepherd” by Greg Sargent and other pieces of his work can be found at Havenlight.
If you would like to delve deeper into John 10:11-18 there is a great Commentary at Bible Gateway.
“I hear the Lord saying, “I will stay close to you,
instructing and guiding you along the pathway for your life.
I will advise you along the way
and lead you forth with my eyes as your guide.
So don’t make it difficult; don’t be stubborn
when I take you where you’ve not been before.
Don’t make me tug you and pull you along.
Just come with me!” Psalm 32:8-9 The Passion Translation
“He offers a resting place for me in his luxurious love. His tracks take me to an oasis of peace, the quiet brook of bliss. That’s where he restores and revives my life. He opens before me pathways to God’s pleasure and leads me along in his footsteps of righteousness so that I can bring honor to his name. Lord, even when your path takes me through the valley of deepest darkness, fear will never conquer me, for you already have! You remain close to me and lead me through it all the way. Your authority is my strength and my peace. The comfort of your love takes away my fear. I’ll never be lonely, for you are near. You become my delicious feast even when my enemies dare to fight. You anoint me with the fragrance of your Holy Spirit; you give me all I can drink of you until my heart overflows. So why would I fear the future? For your goodness and love pursue me all the days of my life. Then afterward, when my life is through, I’ll return to your glorious presence to be forever with you!” Psalms 23:2-6 The Passion Translation