Do You Know Who You’re Praying To?

“When they measure themselves by themselves and compare
themselves with themselves, they are not wise.”
2 Cor. 10:12b

In Luke 18:9-14 Jesus tells the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector:

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.”

This parable is a study in contrasts. The difference in their posture reveals plenty. The Pharisee “stood up”, and the tax collector “stood at a distance”, not even looking up to heaven. The tax collector clearly knew his position before God; it was one of submission.

The Pharisee chose to compare himself to other men and found himself thankful for his own apparent holiness; the tax collector compared himself to God and realized his need.

The Pharisee chose to brag about his works, as if God would be impressed; the tax collector had nothing to offer except the acknowledgement that he was sinner.

Whenever I read this parable, I am struck by the audacity of the Pharisee—and I suppose that is what drives home the lesson. When we think about prayer, and especially WHOM we are praying to, I find it so ironic that the Pharisee camps out on comparisons and bragging. And of course it is telling to consider to whom Jesus was targeting in this parable: those who were confident in their own righteousness (braggers), and who looked down on everyone else (comparers).

When you pray, do you really pause to consider your place? In our 21st century Christian faith, we see God as so approachable that I sometimes wonder whether we haven’t forgotten to appreciate His holiness. When we realize WHOM we are praying to, it can only result in a response of humility and gratitude. Let’s quit comparing ourselves to others and consider our place…in the presence of the Lord.

The Power of Truth:

  • “Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off your sandals; the place where you are standing is holy ground.’” Acts 7:33
  • “The mountains quaked at the coming of the LORD. Even Mount Sinai shook in the presence of the LORD, the God of Israel.” Jdg. 5:5 (NLT)
  • “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Prov. 11:2

Suggestion for Prayer:

Compare yourself to God, and acknowledge His greatness and holiness. Thank Him for being your Savior every day.