Two men stood in the Temple praying.
The one had a wide metal box looped around his arm with a leather strap and also had extra long fringes on the edge of his cloak. He was fasted up, tithed up, prayed up, studied up, dressed up, and belonged to the religious party, which many recognized as the “Hope of Israel.” He was a Pharisee.
The other man was considered the scum of Israel and a turncoat who had committed treason by conniving with Rome to rip off God’s people: the Jews. He was a tax collector.
It would have been only natural for the Pharisee to look around and notice the tax collector. He opened his mouth and prayed:
“I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! (Luke 18:11 NLT)
At the same time, it would have been perfectly normal for the tax collector to notice the Pharisee. He knew the Pharisees followed the Law and the Tradition of the Elders to the nth degree, and also knew what everyone said about tax collectors. So, he prayed with his head bowed down and beat his chest with sorrow:
‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ (Luke 23:13 NLT)
Jesus taught this happening as a parable and said:
I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 23:14 NLT)
Okay, okay, I’m guilty.
I can’t say that I have ever compared myself to tax collectors, but I sure have compared myself to Baptists, Catholics, Methodists, Presbyterians, Pentecostals, Charismatics, Messianic believers, Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons, and everyone who doesn’t agree with me on all of my personal doctrines.
Do you know what sin I have committed when I compare myself to others? Pride.
Pride leads to disgrace… (Proverbs 11:2 NLT)
I often ask the Holy Spirit to search my heart for pride. It doesn’t take much for it to sneak into my life and ruin my prayers…maybe yours, too.
What are other hindrances?
(Continued in Part 11…earlier parts can be read by clicking here or above on the header.)