As a young person, I carried a Bible with a list of scripture references, many of them from the Psalms, carefully Scotch-taped inside the cover. Each was a promise, or an encouragement, or a word of hope for a variety of everyday struggles: when you feel afraid, when you are lonely, when you are tempted, when you are sad. I thought of that list as I was reading the Psalms in preparation for this month of devotions, and I remembered that though I may not personally be afraid, or lonely, or tempted, or sad (or anything!), there are countless people in the world who ARE. And many of them may be so terribly afraid, or lonely, or tempted, or sad, or anything, that they cannot even shape words into prayer.
Together, as the community of faith, we can claim the promises of God and pray on behalf of those who have no words.
Praying Psalm 27 for Those Who Are Afraid
Though an army pitch camp against me, my heart will not fear, though war break out against me, my trust will never be shaken.–Psalm 27:3, NJB
There’s a lot to fear these days… if, that is, you pay attention to certain news outlets and sales pitches. There’s big business in convincing people they ought to be afraid. And the solutions–if you want to buy in (literally)–can be purchased online, or voted into office, or installed on our doors and windows.
But when I listen to the prayer concerns at church, and to the international news, and to the Psalms, my own induced fears seem about as real as monsters under the bed, and they can usually be chased away with the flip of a light switch. If I’m honest, most of the threats I fear are not real, but only my perception: shadows, nightmares. Perhaps, for myself, I need to pray a psalm of reality-check, a psalm of reining in my overactive imagination.
Because when the monsters in my closet distract me, I cannot see past them to places where the fears are so very real, the darkness so very deep, that there seems to be no such thing as light.
God, light of love,
keep your promise of salvation
especially for those who face fear every day.
Where there is danger to life or to heart,
where there is war–without and within–
where there are real, hovering threats,
strike a promising spark against the dark.
With the Psalmist we pray for all who are afraid:
shine your light and
chase the shadows away
so that those who live in deepest darkness can see
how very near you are.
Give them faith that you will save.
Give them comfort in the peace of your fortress.
Give them freedom from fear. (v. 1)
Use us to share with them your protection. (v. 5)
Let us build them up
so their hearts may grow in boldness;
let us be your light,
so they may glimpse your abiding hope (v. 14)
Let us stand with them, so that together
we may praise your name. (v. 6b)
Nicole Finkelstein-Blair is a 2001 graduate of Central Baptist Seminary and an ordained Baptist minister. As a military family for the past 15 years, she and her husband Scott and their two boys have found “church homes” across the country and across denominations. For fun, she writes, reads, knits, and helps the school librarian make bulletin boards.