Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it: “I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations,
to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.
Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”
Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
Whether it comes from betrayal, neglect, abandonment, or from a broken bone or failing health – the result is some kind of emotional or physical pain. When I look back on my life, I remember the physical tension of my aching body or the chest-tightening ache that came from a broken heart. My greatest hope in times of pain is that you will bring me healing. Thank you that I never have to worry you haven’t noticed my pain. How compassionate you are to comfort me in my hurts. On the other hand, there are times when I hurt so badly that I forget about you, Jesus. I become completely focused on how to stop the pain. But you never abandon me. When I feel alone in my hurt, it is often because I am concentrating so much on easing the pain of my problems that I have forgotten you have promised to help me in my difficulties. Thank you that you never leave me. I find comfort in your promise to be with me and give me hope and purpose in the midst of my aching body and soul.
And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.
Lord, we lament the divisions between us as people in our nation that we cannot seem to resolve.
Lord, we lament the pain, confusion, hatred, and violence that seems to reign in our personal and national life.
Lord, we lament the lack of leadership in our government that has in many ways led to the state of affairs in which we now find ourselves.
Lord, we lament the darkness in our own hearts that contributes to this situation.
Lord, we pray for those who perpetrated the attacks on the Capitol, and the broader attacks on our democracy, to be brought to justice and ultimately to repentance.
Lord, we pray for truth to reign in our national conversations and our communities, as well as in our church.
Lord we pray for President Trump, during the final days of his administration, that he will fulfill his duties responsibly.
Lord, we pray for President-elect Biden, that he will have wisdom as he prepares to assume office on January 20.
Lord, we pray for all our elected officials in the Senate and House of Representatives to be led by Your grace and wisdom, whether they want to be or not.
Lord, we pray for protection of our nation from any adversaries who would seek to harm us during this perilous transitional period.
Lord, we remember that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12), so we pray that You would protect us from all spiritual evil that seeks to bring devastation upon us.
Lord, we pray for healing of relationships between Americans who are deeply divided by partisanship, that they will seek to resolve their differences peacefully and cooperate where possible for the common good.
Lord, we pray for protection of those in other countries suffering persecution, who have seen the United States as a model of democracy, who may now be endangered as dictators are emboldened to commit further abuses.
Lord, we pray for all who follow the Prince of Peace, that we will humble ourselves before God and allow the light of Christ to shine through us into our dark and broken world.
And Lord, we pray for our own church that we might stand in Your truth, be filled with Your grace, live as one through Christ, and might boldly walk forward as witnesses to You and Your Kingdom, individually and corporately.
All this we pray through Jesus Christ, who with You and the Holy Spirit, are one God, both now and forever. Amen.
Matt Erickson, pastor serving in Milwaukee, WI, blogging at Renovate
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.