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.”
This past Sunday at The Well Church of Lewisville, we have been studying hindrances to prayer. Prayer is our way of pouring our heart out to God. It is our way of letting our desires, our hurts, our fears, and our thanksgiving be known to our Father in heaven.
God desires to have a one-on-one relationship with his people. He has made it clear that our heart is what he wants, not our outward appearance or meaningless words. When our hearts are in the right place, then our prayer life will reflect our desires to line up with God’s will, to pour our hearts out for His desires, and to see miracles take place.
In the parable that Jesus taught in Luke 18, Jesus used two examples of heart conditions and prayer. One was the prayer of a Pharisee who was full of pride and self-righteousness; the other was from a sincere and humble tax collector, who was considered a horrid person by the Jewish community. Jesus made the statement that the tax collector, who cried out in humility to God, was justified, whereas the Pharisee was not.
How often do we pray like the Pharisee? When we speak prayers that reflect a self-righteous attitude, our prayers are hindered. God desires a humble and sincere heart when we come to him in prayer. We have all sinned, which the tax collector openly confessed to God, and we are all at the mercy of God’s grace, which leaves no room for self-righteousness. Our righteousness comes through what Christ did, not what we did.
In his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul reminds us that, “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe” (Romans 3:22). The Pharisee claimed righteousness through his own actions, while the tax collector received righteousness through his humble faith.
When we come to God in prayer, come to him with a humble and sincere heart, remembering that it is only by His grace that you have received righteousness through Christ. In doing so, may your prayers be heard by our sovereign God who “opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble” (James 4:6). And may the Lord answer your plea and answer swiftly.
Be blessed in all you do!
Your brother in Christ,