By Reverend Thomas K. Murphy, O.F.M.
Using the Lord’s Prayer as the principle model for prayer, we begin. Our deepest human need is to find our true home, to know our deepest reality. The first words of the Lord’s Prayer provide us with the key that unlocks the mystery of human identity. To his followers’ request to help them to pray, the Divine Teacher declared: Pray then like this: “Our Father who art in heaven” (cf. Mt 6:9a). If God is truly our adopted father, by that very fact we are his adopted children. By these few powerful words, Jesus is revealing his Father’s clear intention of adopting his Son’s disciples as his own beloved children, the People of God.
This amazing rebirth, which takes place at our Baptism into the Blessed Trinity, demands total confidence in the infinite goodness and power of our new heavenly Father. The humanity of Jesus showed this kind of trust. In the hour of his deepest trial in the Garden of Gethsemane on Holy Thursday evening, as he faced what was to happen to him in the next several hours, Jesus’ own prayer was: “Abba, Father, all things are possible to you; remove this chalice from me; yet not what I will, but what you will” (cf. Mk 14:36).
Twelve Psalms are considered Confidence Psalms. Our confidence in God centers around two notions. One, God is a person ever-present to provide help in all our needs, and two, God is a place where we can always find refuge against the storms of life.
Psalm 23 is a perfect example of a Confidence Psalm. It depicts the Lord as a Bedouin shepherd who has two principal responsibilities. With his crook and staff he cares for all the needs of his sheep; also he is always ready to provide a place of asylum and hospitality for any needy traveler in the dangerous desert region of the Near East (cf. Bernard Anderson, Out of the Depths, 1983, page 208).
Psalm 27 begins: The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Later in verse 10 of the same Psalm David shows explicitly that our true identity goes much deeper than one family of origin: For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me up.
The Psalms assure us of adequate personal security: For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly moved (cf. Ps 62:1-2).
Psalm 125:2 urges us to be trustful always in our life: As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the LORD is round about his people . . .
Psalm 121:8 promises sufficient assurance of safety in our travels: The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and for evermore.