Scripture: Luke 18:9-14
Key verse: (10) ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax-collector.
Reflection: One scholar says think of this like a parable about the Pope and a pimp going to church to pray. Or, for our context think of it as a preacher and a stutterer stepping into a pulpit — who are you going to want to hear preach? The preacher, the Pope, you assume, would be best able to pray and articulate the reality of God, just as the crowd gathered around Jesus would assume the Pharisee would offer the best and worthiest prayer.
But doesn’t God love to mix it up?! Who knew the tax collector (a commissioned, legally protected thief really) had that in him? Well, God apparently. By expressing who he is rather than who he thinks God expects him to be, our tax collector draws closer to God, by praying honestly more than eloquently. To pray well is to pray honestly and with vulnerability — it gives God room to move and the Spirit to breathe.
Some are blessed with poetic sensibilities, some can speak with grace and others seem to channel a spontaneous spirit with ease. But all of us can be vulnerable. All of us can be honest. Therefore, all of us can pray, draw near to God and be filled with the breath of life.
That’s my advice for the day. You know, from one tax collector to another.
Prayer: Breathe on me breath of God. Fill me with life anew, that I may love what you love, and do what you would do. In the name of Jesus. Amen.
Author: Derek Macleod
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].