A different way to pray

Date: Tuesday, November 12

ScriptureLuke 18:9-14

Verse: I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted. (Luke 18:14)

Have you heard the old joke about the preacher who stood before his congregation and said, “I am incredibly humble. You should all become as humble as me!”? Uh, as one my mentors says, “I’d invite you to rethink that.”

In some corners of our faith, it seems humility has been forgotten. We want to brag about how righteous we are – how often we pray, go to the best church, watch the “right” movies and not the “wrong” ones, listen to the Christian radio station and not those others, and even how our politics are more righteous than others (and that happens on both sides of the aisle). We are on God’s team and they are not. It is a dangerous, slippery slope of pride.

Jesus sets up today’s story a bit like a spaghetti western where the good guys are identified by their white hats, and the bad guys by their black ones. Two men are in the Temple praying. One is a Pharisee – a religious leader, white hat. The other is a tax collector – a traitor, black hat. But by the end of the story, the roles are reversed. The one we thought the hero is not, and the one we thought the villain is actually accepted by God. How is that?

While on the surface this story seems to be about a way to pray, prayer is more the vehicle for another point. Notice the way Luke describes the audience for this parable in verse 9: “He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt.” This is a parable about pride, the lack of humility. The difference between these two pray-ers, is not the words they use in their prayers, but the heart with which they pray. The religious leader prays looking not to God, but down his nose at the tax collector. The tax collector prays knowing he is a sinner who has no right having the ear of God. He goes away justified, not because his prayer is better, but because he is humble.

Prayer: Break my heart, O God, that I might see my own sins rather than how I am not as sinful as someone else. Amen.

Action: Spend some time alone with God focusing on your own struggles. Ask God to strip away your pride.

Respond: Have you ever admired the humility of another? Answer by clicking “Leave a Comment” below.
If you are receiving this via email, click the title at the top of the email to take you to the devotion webpage where you can leave a comment.

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About Joe Iovino

Christian, husband & father, Associate Pastor in Monument CO, guitar player, motorcyclist, Mets fan.
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