God, have mercy on me, a sinner

Luke 18:9-14 (NIV)

9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.11 The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

13 “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.’

14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

 

Many people, even Christians, think that to be ‘righteous’ (effectively ‘right before God’) involves doing the right thing. Keeping the commandments. Obeying the Law.

But this completely misses the point.

It’s because we are unable do good all of the time that Jesus paid the price for us. Stood in our place. Received the punishment we so justly deserve.

We are all sinners. Each and every one of us. (Romans 3:10)

Acknowledging this and asking for God’s forgiveness is our only path.

Trying to earn His merit is a futile endeavour. No matter what we do we will never be good enough. At least, not without Jesus.

It’s such a simple, pure concept of substitution that we find it hard to grasp.

We are reluctant to accept such generosity. Such grace. Such mercy.

Perhaps it’s about time you stopped struggling to pay an insurmountable debt and instead accepted the gift on offer: eternal life.

Kim+

prayer : that friends & family would discover the joy of faith

action : share the hope I have in Christ with family & friends

pray to your Father who is in secret

“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Matthew 6:6 (ESV)

Listening to the John Piper sermon entitled, “Praying in the Closet and in the Spirit” I was reminded of both the necessity to pray intentionally and to pray spontaneously.

Intentional prayer is disciplined, regular, scheduled prayer time.

Such as first thing in the morning when you wake up.

Or at the start of a church meeting and band practice.

Or with your spouse just before bedtime.

Or with the family at mealtime.

And spontaneous prayer is unscheduled, unplanned, and reactionary. A spur of the moment decision based on particular circumstances at that time.

Such as when you receive an email from a missionary requesting prayer.

Or when you’re talking to a friend who tells you of some important need.

Or when you’re struggling in the middle of an exam and require guidance.

Or perhaps you feel the need to give thanks for something that has literally just happened.

Both types are important and neither should be excluded from our prayer life.

Yet, it’s easy to neglect prayer.

Too easy to push God to the back of our minds and lives.

Yet on the flip side, our prayer life shouldn’t be a public spectacle.

It’s not meant to be a show that lauds our “righteousness” and “spirituality”.

Rather, it is an acknowledgement of our humble need for a God who is all-powerful.

A God who desires to answer our prayers, according to His will.

“For everyone who asks receives” (Matthew 7:8).

Kim+

prayer : help me to be more disciplined in my prayer life

action : schedule regular prayer times each day