Courage Is a Practice and Prayer Is Too

KJ RamseyBy KJ Ramsey4 Minutes

Adapted from The Book of Common Courage: Prayers and Poems to Find Strength in Small Moments by K.J. Ramsey.

Introduction: Courage Is a Practice and Prayer Is Too

Courage is something we hold in common. Courage is not the possession of the bravest or biggest but the choice to move toward the heart when the mind and body are separated by fear. Courage is the choice to move our fear into communion.

When we don’t have words, we need a witness. We need with-ness.

When we find ourselves struggling to be strong in yet another dark valley of vulnerability, we need to sense there is a Shepherd coming to care for us.

If we are honest, sometimes in small moments of stress and big seasons of suffering, God can seem like an absent or apathetic Father. In Christ, God has a face and footsteps. In Christ, we can see God’s gaze turned toward the weak and the weary—turned toward us.

My new book The Book of Common Courage follows the familiar path of Psalm 23 word by word and phrase by phrase to welcome us back into our truest story.

Psalm 23 situates us in a song that repeats itself. The psalm itself is written in a literary form called a ring

composition, in which the psalmist, David, reflected on aspects of our relationship with God by telling a story to its climax and then repeating the story backwards with a slight variation.[footnote]

Psalm 23 is a circle, and courage is too. When we find ourselves in another hard, dark valley, we are still in the circle of God’s care. In small moments, when our strength has shrunk yet again and words are hard to find, we are still in the story where a Shepherd seeks us.

Courage is a practice, and prayer is too. These collects, poems, and blessings in my new book The Book of Common Courage are a bridge I’ve built for you to encounter the compassionate presence of our Good Shepherd.

I pray that in these words you will trace the edge of your life. I pray you will choose to bless rather than curse your emptiness and approach your life with curiosity rather than control.

Even that which confounds us can be a container for communion.

An empty bowl can sing.

And, strangely, your cup will overflow.


In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from the heavens, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased” (MARK 1 : 9 –11 NRSV).

Lord Jesus,

who stepped down onto the muddy banks of the Jordan where your cousin John
pulled you under
to be drenched in the baptism
of a repentance God surely didn’t need so that every waterlogged ear
could be freed to rise to the sound of the Voice of Love coming down:
we want to hear what you heard that strange day.

Because though we call you Lord we forget to call ourselves Beloved.
But your ears still hear
the words that seem drowned out:
we are God’s Beloved
through the Spirit, in you, Christ, God’s Son.


© 2023 by Katie Jo Ramsey. Used by permission of Zondervan.

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