The Jesus Prayer has its origin in this parable. The text of the prayer is simple: “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner”. Although prayed since the sixth century, the modern technique associated with this prayer – controlled breathing and mantra-like repetitions – probably didn’t come into use until the fourteenth century. Like any prayer, the point isn’t to perfect the technique but to find the right spirit.
The tax collector in the parable had the right spirit, even if he couldn’t imagine the technique that history would form around his prayer. He simply bowed his head, acknowledged his sins, and counted on God’s mercy. The Pharisee, who had more style and undoubtedly greater technique, gave himself over to self-celebration, reporting his good deeds in the event God might have missed them. In the process, he missed the heart of prayer, which is humility.
The lesson on prayer is simple. Pray however you want, but be sure of two things: that you DO pray, and that your heart is invested in your prayer.
How do pride and humility figure in your experience of prayer?
The Scripture (Luke 18: 14) The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector
Jesus commented, “This tax man, not the other, went home made right with God. If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself”.
As humans, sometimes we cannot help comparing ourselves to others or calling attention to what we did well so that we that can receive praise. We cultivate a spirit of humility by living a life full of gratitude for God’s blessings and by a sincere awareness of our dependence upon God. Help others to understand the difference between how the Pharisee and the tax collector behaved. Help others to choose the path of humility and to recognise their need of God in all things.
The listening is over, now is the time for action!
We will have done with self-glorification,
we will have done with self-justification,
we will have done with denial,
we will have done with apathy,
we will have done with pride.
And you will walk humbly before your God?
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