The Psalm 23 Garden
Over the next two months, we are going to focus on the Psalm 23 garden at the back of the church.
So, firstly you may want to take a look at it and familiarise yourself with the Psalm by reading it in a number of different versions. Maybe read it out loud and emphasise different words or verses as you do this.
So, when you walk around the garden we have you will find an entrance of old pipes painted and used as planters with Psalm 23 on them. Behind them are some small shrubs. The garden Sarah created was designed to give peace and calm and likewise as we draw aside to pray we should seek a place where we can find peace and calm and be able to listen to God as he talks to us as we pray to him.
Week 1: The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want.
Ancient shepherds were heroes…strong fit men who protected the sheep. But even here David acknowledges he needs someone stronger to protect him in life. Spend time thanking God for how he protects you.
Week 2: green pastures… still waters… He restores my soul.
We have two beds for this verse. The meadow represents the pastures and the bed with steppingstones, a mirror and blue plants represent water.
This verse reminds us of stillness, calm and rest: all of which are part of God’s plan for us. We weren’t designed to work 24/7. We need to find time for God so we can really pray for him.
Week 3: He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
The steppingstones remind us of a pathway and if we slip from them we would end up in the water. So often we are tempted to stray from what we know is right. We make poor choices that don’t really reflect the fact that Jesus is the centre of our lives. Pray into decisions you have made which were clearly not god’s will. Pray for help with current decisions and situations you are unsure of.
Week 4: Dark valleys
This part of the garden is in the corner and is a rockery. In the middle is a staff to remind us of the shepherd’s crook. None of us go through life without trials and times of great sadness. Some suffer more than others, but each person has to deal with the hurt and difficulty facing them. Pray around issues that are troubling you this week and ask God to help you see them differently or see a way forward. You may also need to reflect on how you are feeling towards others who seem to be wallowing in grief or hurt pray for a change of attitude towards them.
Week 5: He prepares a table for us…our cup overflows with His goodness.
The vegetable planters and fruit trees are the reminders that God spreads a table of good stuff for us the tyre teacup is an image of the overflowing cup of goodness from God.
Eating together and sharing life is good. God wants us to have fellowship and friendship with others so we can grow together and encourage each other. But so often we fall out with people. Reflect this week on your relationships and also the goodness that God gives to you in your life.
Week 6: dwell in the house of the Lord
The last garden is the house-shaped bed at the front of the church, this has plants given by families who lost a loved one over covid, some to covid but others through illness and old age. The garden has provided comfort for these families and drawn their hearts to God as they have been able to think of their loved one dwelling with God. Thank God for your loved ones and pray for each one and their relationship with God, with yourself and with other family members.
Weeks 7 and 8
Depending on when you get started on this prayer focus you may have 1 or 2 weeks at the end. Don’t rush. The idea of this prayer guide is to help you to dwell on your thoughts and listen to what God is saying. So, imagine, or google the Psalm 23 garden that Sarah designed. It had trees, rocks and running water. Places to sit and rest just like our bench. The careful design made it look natural and wild just like God’s creation…carefully planned and yet so diverse and wild and beautiful.
Your walk with God is unique. It is the most personal relationship you can ever have. One designed with you in mind. Just as time is required to care for and keep the garden good and weed-free so our daily life should be a careful reflection of that. So, over what time is left pray for issues in your life, weed them out and start afresh and also spend time thanking God for all the blessings you have. Maybe change something in your own garden as a reminder to be more purposeful in your prayer life.