Practicing the Presence of God PRAYER
Little Boy kneels at the foot of the bed,
Droops on the little hands little gold head.
Hush! Hush! Whisper who dares!
Christopher Robin is saying his prayers.
God bless Mummy. I know that’s right.
Wasn’t it fun in the bath to-night?
The cold’s so cold, and the hot’s so hot.
Oh! God bless Daddy – I quite forgot.
If I open my fingers a little bit more,
I can see Nanny’s dressing-gown on the door.
It’s a beautiful blue, but it hasn’t a hood.
Oh! God bless Nanny and make her good.
And what are your prayer times all about?
v 9. Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else:
The right attitude for prayer.
This story told by Jesus would have cut right across the expectations of his listeners. After all, the Pharisees were well known for their prayers; they prayed on street corners and other public places so surely, they were model men of prayer, weren’t they? And as for Tax Collectors, well, they don’t really count when it comes to prayer. Nobody has a good word for them, and surely, God won’t listen to them will He!
Wrong! Jesus’ conclusion was all topsy-turvy. The ‘Good guys’ – the Pharisees, have got it all wrong. They were trying to pray from a position of strength and righteousness; they had a high opinion of their own status as religious leaders, and so expected God to hear them – and answer them. The prayer Jesus attributes to the Pharisee is amazingly full of self-praise; the big I is centre stage and others are scorned for their sinfulness. No sign of humility there, no request for others, in fact why is he praying at all?
The Tax Collector – well, all he can do is appeal to God for mercy. He knows the kind of person he is, and mercy is all he can plead for. He can only depend on God’s mercy; he has nothing else to say.
True prayer begins with this attitude of humility – dependence on God for everything. After all, we really have nothing to boast about, God is our only hope for our present needs and our eternal future.