Victory Over Depression Blog

(Healing & Victory Through Jesus Christ)

Prayer and The Pharisee and The Tax Collector (Luke 8:9-14)

After teaching the Parable of The Persistent Widow, Jesus immediately spoke another parable about prayer.  The theme of this parable is that prayer must come from a genuine, humble heart and not a self-righteous, prideful one. 

Recall that tax collectors were considered to be one of the worse type of sinners in Israel.  They were Jewish people who collected taxes from their own countrymen for Rome, Israel’s enemy and governing authority.  Most tax collectors were so corrupt they usually collected more than was necessary and pocketed the difference. 

Recall also that the Pharisees were the majority ruling authority in Israel.  They were zealous for God and His law, but were too stringent in its application.  They neglected mercy and compassion for the people.  Instead, the majority of them developed an arrogant pride of being “holier than thou.”  They lived this attitude. Because of this, Jesus had the most conflicts with them.  Jesus was such a threat to their security that they plotted to kill Him. 

So it is not ironic that Jesus chose a fictional tax collector and a fictional Pharisee to highlight the correct motive for prayer to God.  This is applicable for today as well.  There are many people in leadership positions who have a self-righteous, prideful ego.  Many look down at “lesser” types of people.  Jesus is challenging us to look past them and look at Him instead.  He is also challenging them to change.  Because Jesus looks at the heart, all are equal in His eyes.  We need our prayer to God to be from a genuine, humble heart as the tax collector’s was.  Yes, we need also to guard our hearts against having a “holier than thou” attitude. 

God rejects the self-boasting prayer.  God honors all prayers from a genuine heart.  Jesus shows us that when He concludes the parable.  Luke 18:13-14 “But the tax collector, standing some distance away, but was beating his breast, saying ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’  I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” 

“God, be merciful to me, the sinner” said from a genuine, humble heart is one of the most effective prayers that touches the heart of God. 

 

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And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’  But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be [f]merciful to me, the sinner!’  I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

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