Determining a Need

Image for AprilPraise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. —Psalm 103:1-5

When visiting my home last week, my nephew said, “I’m really hungry!” Without too much thought, I knew that he had noticed the empty candy jar in the living room. He wanted some chocolate—his and my favorite.

I wonder how he would have responded if I had offered to get him some broccoli? That wouldn’t have fed his “hunger.” A hamburger probably wouldn’t have done the trick either. Neither would a hot dog. My nephew was looking for chocolate! His need wasn’t really an empty stomach. His parents feed him regularly. No, his need was related to his “sweet tooth”—something I can strongly identify with.

When sharing about Jesus and his gospel message with your neighbor, it’s very important for you to be sensitive to your neighbor’s individual, specific need. If I had given my nephew some broccoli or a hamburger, I would have missed his real need. Jesus comes very intimately, very sensitively into each of our lives. He meets us exactly where we are. He’s available to meet each individual need.

As you continue developing a relationship with your neighbor, start asking yourself this question: “What area, what concern, what question in my new friend’s life is most in need of the presence of Jesus?” You don’t have to go far to find a possible answer to that question. Answer it for yourself. You have more in common with your neighbor (even your unsaved neighbor) than you might care to admit. Your neighbor most likely has some financial concerns. Don’t you? Your neighbor may not be feeling appreciated at work. Have you ever felt that way? One neighbor may be concerned about her youngest child. Another may be concerned about his oldest. Maybe you know what that’s like.

Or perhaps your neighbors had a major scare last week when their doctor told them the results of a physical exam. Or maybe your neighbor lost her mother to cancer last fall. You know these things could happen to you, if they haven’t already. Your neighbor’s needs are similar in many ways to your own. This week, ask the Spirit to help you be sensitive to what those needs are. Look for opportunities to help your neighbor in specific ways.

 Prayer Starters for Praying Psalm 103:1-5

• Praise God and thank him for all his benefits in your life.

• Celebrate God’s creativity, thanking him for the way in which he takes into account our unique personalities as he reveals himself to us.

• Thank God that he loves all of us enough to meet us right where we are.

• Ask God to help you understand your neighbor’s unique personality. Invite God to open your mind to the specific way in which your neighbor would be most open to hearing or seeing or experiencing the things of God.

–Adapted from Be Jesus in Your Neighborhood (Developing a Prayer, Care, Share Lifestyle in 30 Days) by Alvin VanderGriend. This book is available at Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.

Prayer Points

Praise God, who is perfect in beauty and holiness (Ps. 50:2). Thank him for making everything beautiful in its time (Eccl. 3:11), including your own life. Confess those times during this past week when your words or actions did not reflect to others the beauty of Christ. Commit yourself to being transformed into his likeness (2 Cor. 3:18). Ask God daily to change the ugliness of sin in your life to his loveliness.

Ask God to spread the fragrance of the knowledge of God through you to the people you meet this week (2 Cor. 2:14-16).

–Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend is a website devoted to growing prayer in the local church.

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Connection (Devotions for Everyday Life) © 2014 is published daily by Harvest Prayer Ministries.