Your Attitude in Prayer
Luke 18 describes two different people and their approach to God in humility in prayer:
“To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone 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 by himself and prayed: “God, I thank you that I am not like other people—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 all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14)
Did you see the difference between the two? The Pharisee was “confident in his own righteousness.” He did not see any lack in himself that he needed God to satisfy. Not only that, he was confident his own good works were sufficient. Why was he even bothering to “pray”? Or was he just taking a public opportunity to list his accomplishments and credentials? He certainly considered himself to be superior.
But then you have the tax collector. He was despised by the Jews. He must have been very uncomfortable in that temple surrounded by people who looked down on him. He was absolutely aware that he had no righteousness of his own. Rather, he was wholly dependent upon God. He made no excuses for himself. He did not assume he deserved anything from God—except the mercy that God would supply.
Jesus explained to His listeners that the tax collector’s humility, not the Pharisee’s pride, reaped the greater reward. The tax collector was the one who went home justified.
Think about that when you go to God in prayer. Warren Wiersbe explains:
“To be gripped by the miraculous magnificence of prayer means to be humbled and broken, deeply grateful for the privilege of access into the presence of the Almighty. It means following the example of the publican and crying out for help, not bragging about our achievements as the Pharisee did (Luke 18:9–14). It means depending wholly on the grace of God and not being ashamed to admit it.”
God has a promise for those who come to Him in humility: “The Lord takes delight in His people; He crowns the humble with victory” (Psalm 149:4; cf. 2 Chronicles 7:14).
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- Warren W. Wiersbe, On Earth as It Is in Heaven (Baker Publishing Group, Kindle Edition), p. 15. ↑