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What Is True Prayer?
“For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will exalted.” To hear Luke’s account of Jesus parable on the Pharisee and the tax collector properly, we have to understand situation. Both had gone to the temple to pray. This is good, but let’s have a closer look! The Pharisee thanks God because he is such a good person compared to the rest of humanity who are greedy, adulterous and dishonest – just like the tax collector. He considers himself as deserving the goodness of God following a job well done. He doesn’t acknowledge his sinfulness and doesn’t ask for forgiveness – after all, he has done nothing wrong! Right? The tax collector, on the other hand, is aware of his own sinfulness and simply asks for mercy as he says – “God, be merciful to me a sinner.” His helplessness and dependence opens him to God’s love and grace.
Jesus says that the tax collector went home a righteous person – fulfilled in God’s eyes, while the Pharisee did not. As he said: “All who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted. What exactly is true prayer?
In practicing true prayer: We recognize our sins, we thank God for our blessings, we ask for forgiveness, we praise Him and finally open ourselves to a peaceful relationship with God. We are called to practice true prayer by recognizing our sins, asking forgiveness, thanking God for our blessings and to join a special relationship with our Lord – a special and righteous relationship.
We have a choice because we were given this freedom of choice by the death of Jesus on the cross. Where do we stand? Are we going to be self-praising Pharisees or repentant sinners like the tax collector? Is there really any choice here?