(authors note: to learn more about “Hear the Whisper Wednesday” click here.)
Prayer Attitude: Pharisee vs Tax Collector (Luke)
“To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable:
‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.
But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
‘I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted’.” Luke 18:9-14
Jesus is speaking to a group who thought of themselves as better than others, who placed their value in their own efforts and not on their God (aka, “proud people”).
He tells the story of two men who came to pray:
1) One exalts himself and his works
2) One exalts God and asks for mercy.
Jesus summarizes the story by saying that the humble man went home “justified”, meaning his sins were forgiven and he was credited with righteousness. However, it was not righteousness based on what he had done, but righteousness that comes from God.
This is amazing to me…Our pride can be present in our prayers. We can be self-centered in our communication with God. We can be proud of what a good Christian we are. In doing so we miss our opportunity for God’s righteousness. We chose our own inferior, external righteousness.
When you pray are you exalting God and recognizing your need for Him? Or do you only thank Him that you aren’t as bad as others and tell Him all the good “Christian” things you have accomplished? Have you settled for your own righteousness or are you humbling yourself to receive God’s?
Beth Moore writes, “Pride is not a circumstance. It’s a state of mind. It’s an equal opportunity agent of Satan-his absolute specialty. We can become proud of our self-discipline, sacrificial giving, and self-denial as of our worldly successes and goods.”
Hear the whisper. Humble yourself. Exalt God. Place Him in the center. Even in your prayers.
Check out a wonderful post by Ann Voskamp on Scripture Memory here: