Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – September 3, 2015
Guest Writer: Meet my son-in-law Tripp Prince. We are blessed to have him as our guest writer.
Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—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. Luke 18:10-13
Growing up I remember the frequent encouragement given to pray the “sinner’s prayer”. In the culture of my childhood church this prayer was the entryway to life in Christ, the beginning of conversion in which one turns away from sin and death and turns toward new life in Christ. This prayer was an important and central element of discipleship, yet it was always prayed and then left behind. Once you had prayed the prayer and were “saved”, you were then free to move beyond this prayer into the “advanced” parts of the Christian life. This prayer was a one-time prayer that became part of my faith journey, albeit an increasingly distant one. Perhaps you can relate.
As I reflect on this experience, I wonder if we missed something central. What if the sinner’s prayer wasn’t meant to be prayed once and then promptly forgotten, but was instead meant to be the daily heart cry of every Christ follower? Our ability to genuinely join our hearts in prayer with the tax collector is not a sign of spiritual weakness or immaturity, but is instead a sign of spiritual growth and health!
From our first cry to our final breath, we are always sinners in need of God’s mercy. This is true of each of us, regardless of how many bible studies we have attended, how frequent our church attendance, or how faithfully we serve the poor and needy. We must take Jesus’ words from Luke 18 to heart and never believe that we have reached a state of spiritual superiority or exclusivity. The prayer of the tax collector should always be close to our hearts and upon our lips.
Today, may the sinner’s prayer be our prayer. May we remember that we are always broken and needy people who must continually return to the source of mercy and forgiveness. God’s goodness and love have no end. May we likewise never grow tired of coming to him in our brokenness, saying “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
Prayer: Father, keep us ever mindful of your holiness and majesty, that we may never think too highly of ourselves but may instead come to you as sinners in need of healing and mercy.
Related Readings: Psalm 31:1-2; Psalm 51:1; 1 Cor. 1:18; Jude 21
Post/Tweet this today: We are broken and needy people who must continually return to the source of mercy and forgiveness—Jesus. #sinnersprayer #wisdomhunters
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