Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”  Luke 9:61

I decided to take a road trip with my family before the kids headed back to school. I quickly realized there were many routes to choose from to get to our final destination. Did I want the fastest path, the longer scenic route, or the tourist track with its many stops?

If my objective was to get to our final destination as fast as possible, why would I pick a route that required many stops? I could not take the scenic route and expect to get there quickly. I needed to decide what was most important to us and choose the best path to get there.

In Luke 9, we see how difficult a time the would-be disciples had as they struggled to sever ties to the things of the world and choose to follow Christ instead. Often our desire to go back to how things were distracts us from doing what Christ asks of us, making it difficult to follow him faithfully.

What amongst the many paths the world tosses at us, which we have attached ourselves to, are we willing to set aside for him? Are we spending too much time browsing the internet, swiping away at our phones, or connecting with people on social media sites?

Christ does not want us too occupied in activities that have little to do with following him. We should choose the most direct route to Christ and exclude all other unnecessary pathways. Each day we are presented with this choice to make.

Lord, help me to do a better job of focusing my attention on what you are asking of me. Let me not be distracted by the things of the world that I end up going back to a way of life where I am far from you. Amen.

Seek to make worshipping and following Jesus in the Spirit’s strength your focus throughout the day.

To enter the sheepfolds of the Middle East, a shepherd’s sheep had to pass under his rod for him to inspect their condition up close. The shepherd would tend to any obvious needs one by one. Then when all the sheep were in the fold, he lay down across the opening with his own body. Through the 23rd Psalm we better understand our Good Shepherd in a personal way. Ask God to show you about himself in this classic psalm, which unfortunately is so familiar that we can recite it without receiving its revelation deep in our spirits. Listen for what God wants you to know about who he is, what he does, and what you have in your Shepherd.

As you cultivate your personal communion with God in prayer, let him lead you to pray this psalm for others.

The Lord is my Shepherd.
Jehovah-Rohi: God my Shepherd
Jesus said, “I am the Good Shepherd who knows my own sheep by name” (John 10:11). The Lord of the universe knows you personally! Thank Him for your relationship with Him.

Pray it for others: Jesus is the great Shepherd of all His sheep. Pray for someone who is discouraged and thinks God has forgotten them. Pray for them to know God as their Shepherd.

I shall lack nothing.
Jehovah-Jireh: the Lord my Provider
If God provided so much in Jesus to meet your spiritual needs, will He not also take care of your daily practical needs? Pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” (Matthew 6: 11) and name specific needs you are trusting him for. Thank him he is your provider.

Pray for others: Pray for those who have real financial needs and for those who are discontent with what they have. Pray they will know Jehovah-Jireh.

He makes me lie down in green pastures.

He leads me beside quiet waters.
Jehovah-Shalom: God my Peace
Pray about anything that is disquieting your peace. Affirm that God is your peace. Pray about God’s leading in His work and decisions.

Pray for others: Ask God how to pray for someone in a hard place. Pray for Him to calm all fear, doubt, worry, inadequacy, and anxiety with the Prince of peace in their heart.

He restores my soul.
Jehovah-RaphaThe Lord my Healer
Where do you need the healing and restoration of Jesus the Healer?

Pray for others: Pray for God to heal the hurts, bitterness, control, judgments, differences, separation, wrong priorities, apathy, etc., of someone else.

He guides me in paths of righteousness…
Jehovah-TsidkenuThe Lord my Righteousness
Pray for God’s guidance as you dedicate yourself to follow Him as Lord.

Pray for others: Jesus declares us to be righteous, not for what we have done, but because of his perfect righteousness. Pray for salvation for somebody who has not received Jesus as God’s perfect sacrifice for their sin.

For His name’s sake.
Jehovah-M’KaddeshGod’s name is holy.
He says, “I the Lord alone am holy, and I make you holy because you are called by my holy name.” Pray that you will not dishonor his name.

Pray for others: Pray that someone away from God will desire to bring glory and honor to his name.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil, for you are with me.
Jehovah-ShammahGod who is there
Jesus promised his disciples, “I have all authority, and I am always there for you.” (Matthew 28:19, 20) Affirm his presence with you that dispels fears and unbelief.

Pray for others: God promised his presence in Exodus 3:12 for leading the children of Israel out of Egypt. In Exodus 33:14 reaffirmed his presence to finish what he began. Ask God to reveal himself to your family and friends in powerful new ways.

Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You can depend on the rod of His protection and the staff of His correction and rescue. Receive the protection and correction of your Good Shepherd.

Pray for others: His comfort is as warm and tender as that of a mother for her child (Isaiah 66:13, 49:13, 52:9). Who needs you to pray God’s comfort for them?

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
Jehovah-NissiThe Lord my Banner of victory
Praise God that He gives victory over your enemies and sins, as you depend on the authority of your crucified, resurrected, victorious Redeemer.

Pray for others: Pray the same prayer for your family and friends.

You anoint my head with oil.
Oil was used for medicine, sanctification, appointment to office, and as a sign of fellowship. Oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit, who is all these things. Thank God for the power of the Holy Spirit to heal, restore, soothe, cleanse, appoint to His work, and give a sign of your fellowship with the Father and his Son.

Pray for others: Pray that your family and friends will walk in the Spirit.

My cup overflows.
Exercise your attitude of gratitude.

Pray for others: Pray that your family and friends will praise God continually as their Source.

Surely goodness and love with follow me all the days of my life.
Thank God for a specific evidence of His goodness and love He has shown you daily.

Pray for others: Thank God for people who have shown His goodness and love to you. Tell them so at your first opportunity. Pray that they will see God’s goodness to them.

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Ask God to show you how to practice His presence with you continually.

Pray for others: Ask God for the body of Christ to worship Him with their whole heart and be committed to living in His presence daily.