Publican and Pharisee – Shooting Toward Humility

Ever wonder how to get your prayers answered?

Does God not listen sometimes? What attracts His attention?

Are there things you can do that will make your prayers more effective?

The answer is in today’s Gospel reading.

One man prayer with a certain attitude and another man prayed with the opposite attitude, one was heard, one was not. One went home forgiven, the other went home in his sins.

What was the difference? Humility.

The Pharisee prayed to show off, to fulfill an obligation, to obey a law; and out of his own self-confidence, indeed his arrogance, he prayed a prayer of judgment and with an attitude of superiority over others. He had no humility.

The Publican, the tax collector, the one despised by the community, prayed with great humility, with heart felt words, with no judgment of others.

The Pharisee prayed with the focus on himself, how much better he was than others. The Publican prayed a God centered prayer, knowing he was not a good man.

If fact that is what the Lord is saying to us today, “Pray like the Publican and you will be saved.”

Are we to truly believe that we are sinners?

Why must we believe that we are sinners in the depths of our heart?

Because until we truly believe that we are sinners we will fail to understand our need for a Savior. We will be closed off from God who wants to heal us. It is similar to a sick man who refuses to go to the doctor because he is in denial about his sickness. The doctor can’t help such a man.

We have to believe that we are sinners in the depths of our heart because that is a sign of real genuine humility.

When we have this kind of humility we will find that God is quick to lift us up. As it is written in Proverbs 3 and as we are reminded by Our Lord Jesus “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11, 18:14, Proverbs 3:34).

During Great Lent, in just a few weeks, we will begin again to say the prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian and we will say, in part, “Yeah, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own sins and not to judge my brother, for blessed are Thou unto ages of ages. Amen.

We must focus on our own need for a Savior and have humility.

Some signs of humility:

  1. I don’t keep score
  2. I don’t compare myself to others but to the Lord
  3. I don’t harbor resentments
  4. I don’t seek revenge
  5. I don’t rejoice when others experience misfortune
  6. I rejoice when others receive good fortune
  7. I don’t always have to share my opinion
  8. I can hold my tongue and keep silent
  9. I can control my stomach
  10. I don’t need others to acknowledge my good works
  11. I try hide my good deeds
  12. I think good thoughts about others, even those I don’t like
  13. I don’t argue when being corrected
  14. I freely confess my sins
  15. I admit my errors when I see them

We all have a tendency to be like the Pharisee, so our prayers are not answered.

Lets seek to be more like the Pulican.

1 Cor. 13. But substitute the word humility for the word love.

Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.

For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away.

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways.

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrPrint this pageEmail this to someone