Luke 18:10-14 “Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
It is one of the most important activities we can participate with God, and it is one of the first to be neglected in the life of every child of God.
The significance of prayer was demonstrated to all when the veil was rent. It was torn from the top to the bottom, exposing the Holy of Holies to the masses.
Mark 15:37-38 “And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.”
No longer do we need a human high priest. For those who receive Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, we now have Jesus, who is our High Priest. We have direct access to the Father through Jesus.
It is incredible to think of the price that was paid for such a privilege.
We cannot neglect to think that our enemy revels in keeping us from coming with so little effort. The fiery darts in Ephesians are those thoughts that arise while in prayer.
Ephesians 6:16 “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”
Ever wonder why you think what you do when praying? Lists, activities, people, and even such wickedness comes to us when we bow to pray. The significance of prayer ought to not only hold our attention but also cause us to expend all our energy to keep the focus needed on the task at hand.
In prayer, we can slip into habits that cause us not to be effective. Because we have many needs, we chronicle them into a list. If we’re not careful, prayer can be relegated to reading our laundry list to God instead of interacting with Him on their behalf.
We may know one’s need to be evident and outward. But God knows the heart. It may be that their need is different from how we perceive it, and God can reveal it to us if we would but ask.
The publican in this account helps us to understand the need for humility in prayer. But there is more.
There is a yieldedness in his plea. Asking for mercy puts him in the position to allow God to choose the path of forgiveness and correction. We may want a less painful, less condemning way of repentance.
He comes in admittance to the wrong he committed. He begs for mercy on what he knows is against God Word, His law, and His way. His plea comes with the knowledge of what he deserves but asks for what he does not.
When you and I consider what we truly deserve for our sin, our hearts should rejoice in the salvation we received. I cannot help but ponder what might have happened in situations where I could have died and gone to Hell.
Thankfulness and gratefulness rise and overwhelm my heart when I think of what Christ bought for me. I am humbled that He would do such a thing knowing what He would get in return.
Since salvation, I have done things that have hurt His heart. I come humbly to beg forgiveness and find I am already forgiven. I come to be restored and am welcomed with open arms, just like the prodigal son upon his return.
Prayer can be an intense experience of love, redemption, fellowship, acceptance, healing, and so much more. It can only happen when we yield ourselves to His will and PAUSE.
To pause in prayer means to allow God to interact with us. Have you ever asked Him a question and just gone on in your prayer?
Why didn’t we wait for the answer?
Do we lack the faith that He will?
Could it be we may not like the answer?
Prayer is yielding to interact with our Heavenly Father knowing that He has our best interests in mind. Often, our desire to be in control hinders prayer from becoming what God gifted it to be.
In prayer, God reveals who I am to me in all of its raw, unadulterated ‘glory.’ He shows me how He views my sin and its consequence.
He reveals Himself to me. I find more about His character when I interact in prayer while reading His Word. In Psalm 139, David helps us to see an element of prayer that we need.
First, he tells God what he thinks should happen.
Psalm 139:21-22 “Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.”
Pretty strong words, don’t you think? But then, he follows that statement with a request.
Psalm 139:23-24 “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
David checks with God to see if the way he is thinking is right and good. He gives God permission to correct his way of thinking before he acts.
Would to God we would do the same!
May we take our prayer life more seriously for the price paid, for the gift that it truly is, and for the power that can be wielded to affect the lives of others.