In the movie Saved the school worship is led by The Christian Jewels. Hilary Faye the lead singer sings, “Dear God, a little piece of heaven in my world.” Whoever wrote this was no friend of evangelical Christianity but they had accurately observed a tendency in Christian faith to believe in a small God who serves my interests or exists to make my life better. We can spend a lot of time in prayer recounting all of the things that we have done. We can build ourselves up through our vanity like the Pharisee in the comparison below.
9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone 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 by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—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 all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
- What two people came to pray in Jesus’ story?
- To whom is Jesus telling this story?
- What is the lesson to his hearers?
- Do you know anyone who might pray the Pharisee’s prayer?
- Which prayer do your prayers most resemble?