Theme of the Week: Prayer
Bible Verse: “Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord: ‘The Lord looked down from his sanctuary on high, from heaven he viewed the earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners and release those condemned to death.’ So the name of the Lord will be declared in Zion and his praise in Jerusalem when the peoples and the kingdoms assemble to worship the Lord”. Psalm 102:18-22
Scripture Reading: Psalm 102:1-28, Mark 2:1-12
My most frequent prayers are for my felt needs: for strength for the day ahead, for relief from sickness and suffering, and for peace in difficult situations. In the same way, the writer of Psalm 102, identified as “an afflicted person who has grown weak,” asks God for relief from his distress (v. 2) and for his life not to end prematurely in middle age (v. 24).
There’s nothing wrong with asking God for help with our felt needs. God hears our felt-needs prayers and answers them (v. 17). But there is something far more important than our felt needs. When the Lord looks down on us from heaven, he sees that our greatest need is to be released from our imprisonment to sin. Without His intervention, we will die in our sins and spend eternity apart from Him.
When the paralyzed man’s four friends lowered him down through the roof directly in front of Jesus, they expected Jesus to heal his lameness. Instead, Jesus said, “Son, your sins are forgiven” (Mark 2:5). Jesus saw that physical healing was not his greatest need. What he needed most of all was to be freed from sin. Jesus did heal his lameness, too, but only after his greatest need had been met.
While our felt needs seem like the most important thing to us, God sees that our sin problem is in fact our most critical need. He has answered our greatest need by sending his Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. Through Jesus, we are forgiven and, even more, released from our imprisonment to sin (v. 20). Empowered by the Holy Spirit, we can walk in freedom; sin no our keeper.
When we pray, we certainly ought to bring the needs we feel to God. But first, let us praise the One who has met our greatest spiritual need in Jesus Christ, and ask for His help to walk out that freedom today.
Prayer: Lord, both in my personal prayer time and when I am assembled with your people in worship, accept my praise for freeing me from sin. Help me, Holy Spirit, to walk out that freedom today.
Reflection: How is God’s perspective on your needs different than your own?
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