Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Thursday, February 18, 2016
This Week’s Devotional Focus is, “Prayer.”
“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.” (Luke 18:11)
Self-appraisal is impossible without the guidance of the Holy Spirit. He is the One who brings conviction to the heart and shows us where we need improvement (John 16:13). Whenever we attempt to see ourselves in our true light without His aid, we will invariably minimize our need. We will think of ourselves more highly than we should. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). “Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.” (Isaiah 1:5-6.) These verses give an accurate picture of our being, without the Lord.
A religious zealot stood up in the temple, the Bible says, and prayed with himself that he was holy unlike the publican who was nearby. The wording in the King James Version of the Bible is interesting. I am not making a doctrine out of the wording, but it is interesting. It says that the Pharisee prayed with himself and then the verse continues. When we have a false sense of our own righteousness and then venture to pray, giving our spiritual resumes to God, it is as though we are praying to ourselves. We have made ourselves gods. The God of heaven neither hears nor answers proud prayers. The publican received the power of the Holy Spirit to see his exceeding sinfulness. “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.” (Luke 18:13-14). It is a blessing to know that the Lord is not impressed by our proud self-appraisals, but by our God given humility. He is anxious to answer the prayers of those who humble themselves before Him.
May the Lord give us acute spiritual eyesight that we may see as He sees. May we be brought to humility, thereby bringing us into a close relationship with Him. “Yea, they shall sing in the ways of the LORD: for great is the glory of the LORD. Though the LORD be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off.” (Psalms 138:5-6)