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Dr. Jay P. Cook, Pastor

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The Nature of Prayer
Luke 18:9-18:14  The Parable Of The Pharisee And The Tax Collector


Last Sunday at the beginning of chapter 18 of Luke’s Gospel. We looked at 3 incentives of Praying and Not Giving Up:

The parable that follows in Luke 18 is known as the parable of The Pharisee and the Tax Collector. Specifically, the parable of The Pharisee and the Tax Collector deals with the nature / attitude with which we offer up our prayers: “Having the proper nature or attitude makes perseverance possible; without the proper spirit, our perseverance in prayer will go nowhere.”

The Parable
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."

The Two Men
"Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.”

Two Prayers

Two Outcomes

A.  The Bible says, “God gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). And “Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will lift you up” (James 4:10).

APray with a spirit of humility recognizing that we are sinners saved by grace (Eph.   2:8).

The Parable of the Church Leader and the Drug Pusher

As Bob, church Sunday School teacher and Trustee walked into church one Sunday morning, he was disgusted to see Larry Lowlife there, for Larry was a drug pusher who had just gotten out of jail. Bob warned some of the ushers to keep a close watch on Larry because he was a no-good crook.

Before the offering, it was Bob’s time to pray. He walked proudly to the microphone and began to pray using his religious tone of voice, “Heavenly Father, I thank Thee that I’ve been a Sunday School teacher and trustee in this church for 20 years. I even remember when I built this building using my own two hands. And I thank Thee that I haven’t missed a single Sunday for over ten years. There were times, O Lord, when I was sick, but I came anyway. And Father, thou knowest I used to sing in the choir, until I was persecuted by the song leader who wouldn’t sing my style of music–but I can endure persecution just like Thou didest. Thou hast blessed me financially so I’ve been able to give you much more than 10 percent. I Thank thee that I’m morally pure for I don’t drink, and I don’t cuss on Sundays, and I don’t smoke unfiltered cigarettes and I don’t use drugs or sell them–like someone who is among today. Lord, we need more people just like me in our church. And, Lord, help everyone to come out tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at Oak Park field to watch our church softball team beat the Methodists again and bless the gift and the giver. AMEN.”

After napping through much of the sermon, church leader Bob strolled out of church feeling good about himself because he made it through another Sunday. He liked leaving church because he didn’t have to think about God again until the next Sunday.

Meanwhile, Larry Lowlife was slouched on the back pew. After hearing the message about God’s forgiveness, he slipped to his knees, and began to pray. Holding his face in his hands he sobbed quietly, “God, I’m the dirtiest sinner in this town. I’m so sorry. I don’t deserve it, but is there any way you can wash away my filthy mistakes? Please, God, I need you!”

I tell you, it was Larry Newlife, not church leader Bob, who went home that day right with God. For he who struts his stuff before God will eventually be slapped down. But when you admit you are like dirt compared to God’s purity, He’ll pick you up and clean you up.

Are you more like Bob or Larry in that story?

Please click here for attached slides to the sermon.