Church leaders, from Isaiah and Nephi to our modern day prophets have taught us to apply, or “liken” the scriptures to ourselves. In my life, this often takes the form of putting my own name into the scripture as if it is being spoken to me, or just thinking of it as if it were being addressed directly to me. Certain scriptures, when applied in this way, have formed foundational concepts for me – that is, they color or inform the way I think about life and the world. One of the most important of these is Isaiah 41, verses 10 and 13.
10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. 13 For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.
This verse reminds me that I do not walk alone. I do not have to be strong enough to live my life without His help. I can turn to Him whenever I feel weak, inadequate or fearful. In fact, I don’t need to feel any of those things at all, because He is always with me. He stands by my side and holds my right hand. When I do feel those things, instead of dwelling on them or allowing them to control my thoughts, feelings and actions, this scripture comes racing into my mind and I turn to Him, pause to search for and feel His presence and His strength, and calmly face the situation. I am grateful for this reminder that although I am nothing without Him, He is always with me, and together we can handle anything life throws my way.
There are some passages of scripture that I liken to myself by rewriting them, changing the details so that they conform to my life and experience. This can be a very powerful exercise. The one that means the most to me is 2 Nephi 4:16-35, sometimes called “The Psalm of Nephi.” As my life unfolds, I modify my own version of it to be applicable to me in the moment. Likening this beautiful psalm to my life reminds me of my strengths and blessings as well as my continuing weakness and my need to turn to the Lord in each moment.
|2 Nephi 4:16-35 (“The Psalm of Nephi”)||Likening the scriptures to myself|
|16 Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard.||My heart is full with gratitude for the blessings the Lord has given me. I am grateful especially for spiritual insight.|
|17 Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.||Nevertheless, despite my many spiritual experiences and blessings, sometimes I find myself obsessing about my shortcomings and perceived weaknesses and failings. I feel guilty and unworthy of the blessings the Lord has given me.|
|18 I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.||I feel so disappointed in myself for turning to old behaviors and forgetting to turn to the Lord when I am troubled.|
|19 And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.||And when I want to be happy and joyful, the thought of my weaknesses and sins comes to my mind. Nevertheless, I know where to turn for strength.|
|20 My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep.||The Lord Jesus Christ has guided me through adversity: through losing a child, a difficult marriage, divorce, losing my job, illness, starting over in a new city without friends, a new marriage, step children, losing my parents.|
|21 He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh.||At times I feel his love so profoundly, it seems to fill every fiber of my being.|
|22 He hath confounded mine enemies, unto the causing of them to quake before me.||He has helped me find recovery from my addiction and learn to recognize Satan and turn away from him.|
|23 Behold, he hath heard my cry by day, and he hath given me knowledge by visions in the night-time.||He listens to my prayers at all times and gives me personal revelation. He has sent people into my life who have sustained and supported and strengthened me when I needed it.|
|24 And by day have I waxed bold in mighty prayer before him; yea, my voice have I sent up on high; and angels came down and ministered unto me.|
|25 And upon the wings of his Spirit hath my body been carried away upon exceedingly high mountains. And mine eyes have beheld great things, yea, even too great for man; therefore I was bidden that I should not write them.||He has answered my prayers in glorious and sacred ways.|
|26 O then, if I have seen so great things, if the Lord in his condescension unto the children of men hath visited men in so much mercy, why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions?||If I have been so richly and abundantly blessed, why am I still subject to the whisperings of Satan that cause me to doubt my spiritual experiences and my worthiness and why do I allow myself to be distracted from my focus on God?|
|27 And why should I yield to sin, because of my flesh? Yea, why should I give way to temptations, that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my peace and afflict my soul? Why am I angry because of mine enemy?||Why am I still tempted turn to distractions (like computer games) and comforts of the flesh (like compulsive eating) to deal with difficult situations and emotions?|
|28 Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul.||I rejoice in the Lord and remember His infinite love for me. I am eternally grateful for his blessings!|
|29 Do not anger again because of mine enemies. Do not slacken my strength because of mine afflictions.||I will not give in to temptation and turn to any other source of comfort or strength than the Lord.|
|30 Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation.||I will express my gratitude in prayer and thanksgiving. I will share my joy and testimony with the world. My heart will be turned to the Lord in each moment!|
|31 O Lord, wilt thou redeem my soul? Wilt thou deliver me out of the hands of mine enemies? Wilt thou make me that I may shake at the appearance of sin?||Lord, please help me to trust Thee completely, to know that Thou wilt remove my shortcomings and defects in Thy time as I walk in faith.|
|32 May the gates of hell be shut continually before me, because that my heart is broken and my spirit is contrite! O Lord, wilt thou not shut the gates of thy righteousness before me, that I may walk in the path of the low valley, that I may be strict in the plain road!||Because I am willing to turn to Thee in each moment, please help me to become deaf to the enticings of Satan. Please help me to turn my will and my life over to Thee in each moment and walk in conscious contact with Thee continually.|
|33 O Lord, wilt thou encircle me around in the robe of thy righteousness! O Lord, wilt thou make a way for mine escape before mine enemies! Wilt thou make my path straight before me! Wilt thou not place a stumbling block in my way—but that thou wouldst clear my way before me, and hedge not up my way, but the ways of mine enemy.||Lord, encircle me in the arms of Thy love! Please help me to walk in faith and not stumble. Please help me to always remember thee and know that thou art by my side always. Please help me to recognize and turn away from the whisperings of Satan.|
|34 O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.||Oh Lord, I have trusted Thee to guide me through challenges in the past. I know that all things work together for my good when I trust Thee and follow the promptings and counsel I receive.|
|35 Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God. Amen.||I know that Thou wilt provide for me and give unto me all that I need, when I need it. Please help me to bend my will to Thine; to want only those things that would be good for me; to ask for that which it will be possible for Thee to grant, and to be grateful and satisfied with each blessing Thou givest unto me. Please help me to remember Thee in each moment and to be still and trust that all will be well. I pray for all things in Jesus’ Holy Name. Amen.|
- What scriptures have brought you strength and peace?
- Try likening them to yourself, either by addressing them to yourself, or by rewriting them so that they apply to you.
- How does using this technique help you to feel closer to the Lord?
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