“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.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”Luke 18:10-14
Jesus, in this passage, tells the story of 2 praying men. One was a pious attitude religous leader, the other a despised outcast. The religious guy stood apart from everyone else. He stood where everyone could see him. He prayed loudly so everyone could hest him. Some translations even say that he “prayed to or with himself”! He prays a pious prayer telling God about how good he (the guy, not God) is! He goes so far to thank God that he’s not like other people-theives, evildoers, adulterers-not like this outcast/tax collector guy (as he points to the outcast!) This guy certainly had read and believed his own press!
Then there was the outcast . . .he stood in the back and beat his chest. He knew as a tax-collector, someone who had sided with Roman government, thus turning on his own people, not only collecting enough tax money from the government to satisfy the Romans, but over collecting from them to make himself wealthy, that he was a thief and a scoundrel! He indeed WAS the thief, evildoer and probably adulterer that the pious man was glad he was NOT! The difference in the men were their attitude about God! The pious guy thought he was GOOD ENOUGH FOR GOD, while the outcast knew he’d NEVER BE GOOD ENOUGH FOR GOD! He stood, CRYING OUT to God, begging Him for mercy and forgiveness!
In short, the religious guy’s focus was on himself, while the outcast’s focus was one God and His goodness!
Do you need God today? If you’re living life on your own terms, values and following your own whims, how’s that working out for you? If you’re tired of living this way, CRY OR OUT TO GOD! Your prayer doesn’t have to be fancy. You don’t have to compose your prayer using certain key religous vocabulary words! Your prayer can even contain the words, “God, if you’re there . . .” CALL OUT TO HIM TODAY. Give Him a chance! Think about it!