“Sin doesn’t disqualify you for prayer, it qualifies you. It’s out of your weakness that God makes you strong.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – September 27, 2021
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable… The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people. Luke 18: 9, 11
Jesus illustrates two types of prayers to admonish those who were proud of their prayers, namely the self-righteous religious leaders. Contempt for others became the fruit of those who had become overly familiar with their prayers, to the extent of wanting to be seen by others and to pray judgment on those deemed morally inferior. But Jesus contrasted the proud prayers of the religious elite with the humble prayer of a tax official who felt unworthy to even look up to God, much less to look down on others. He slumped over, humbled under the weight of his own sin. His humble prayers were acceptable to Jesus, as this non-religious newbie knew he needed Jesus. The tax man went home right with God, because he prayed right to God, while the religious man knew about God, but he didn’t know God. His proud prayers were unacceptable to God. Jesus showed merciful love to the humble tax man and tough love to the proud religious man.
The love of Christ recognizes and calls out unacceptable, proud prayers that twaddle about with an attitude of self-reliance, and self-righteousness—the very opposite of what He commended– dependent, confessional prayers bowing in humble love for God and His creation.
Unacceptable prayers come from a proud heart. The self-righteous look down on others different from themselves and find pleasure in publicly praying about their moral deficiencies. Yes, those who use their prayers to “preach” at others are conceited in their own high mindedness. Prayer is not meant to flaunt a person’s faith, but to model the need for mercy from the Almighty! Proud prayers focus on mankind, not on Mankind’s Maker. However, humility qualifies quality prayers that glorify Jesus Christ.
We first prepare our hearts with humble submission to Almighty God. Our Heavenly Father looks for humility as an indicator of good and acceptable prayers. Time constraints push us to transactional prayers, while our Lord and Savior Jesus longs for relational prayers. Humble prayers engage in conversation with Christ, which listens most of the time if not the entire time. Our patient prayers enable us to remain in the presence of Jesus until we get to know Jesus.
“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away” (Isaiah 64:6).
The Righteous One reminds us that our righteous acts outside of Christ are like filthy rags. Only to the Cross do we cling, as we bring ourselves into the presence of Holy God. He is the object of our worship. He is who we bow to in awe and adoration. He is who we cry out to for mercy, grace and forgiveness. He is who we petition in our pain. He is who we sit with silently in sweet surrender and trust. He is who loves and comforts us, so we can love and comfort others.
You may feel distant from God in your sorrow, but He invites you to come closer and feel His comforting presence. Moreover, sin doesn’t disqualify you for prayer, it qualifies you. It’s out of your weakness that He makes you strong. It is out of your despair that He repairs your mind, will and emotions. Bring your successes and failures to the feet of Jesus as an offering of praise. He takes what is dedicated to Him and multiplies it for His glory. Humility prays acceptable prayers!
“You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5).
I find the words of C.S. Lewis on prayer in a letter to his friend Dr. F. Morgan Roberts a very helpful, practical daily routine:
I am certainly unfit to advise anyone else on the devotional life. My own rules are (1) To make sure that, wherever else they may be placed, the main prayers should not be put ‘last thing at night’. (2) To avoid introspection in prayer—I mean not to watch one’s own mind to see if it is in the right frame, but always to turn the attention outwards to God. (3) Never, never to try to generate an emotion by will power. (4) To pray without words when I am able, but to fall back on words when tired or otherwise below par. With renewed thanks. Perhaps you will sometimes pray for me?
Heavenly Father, grow my heart of humility to confess my sins and to pray for others to know your love, through Christ’s love and in Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
Who do I need to stop talking about and start praying for?
Audrey Assad: I Shall Not Want
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