Hear the Whisper Wednesday: Pharisee Prayers

June 22, 2011 | 6 comments

(authors note: to learn more about “Hear the Whisper Wednesday” click here.)

Prayer Attitude: Pharisee vs Tax Collector (Luke)

“To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable:

‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 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.  I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.

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.’

‘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’.” Luke 18:9-14

 Jesus is speaking to a group who thought of themselves as better than others, who placed their value in their own efforts and not on their God (aka, “proud people”).

He tells the story of two men who came to pray:
1) One exalts himself and his works
2) One exalts God and asks for mercy.

Jesus summarizes the story by saying that the humble man went home “justified”, meaning his sins were forgiven and he was credited with righteousness. However, it was not righteousness based on what he had done, but righteousness that comes from God.
This is amazing to me…Our pride can be present in our prayers. We can be self-centered in our communication with God. We can be proud of what a good Christian we are. In doing so we miss our opportunity for God’s righteousness. We chose our own inferior, external righteousness.
When you pray are you exalting God and recognizing your need for Him? Or do you only thank Him that you aren’t as bad as others and tell Him all the good “Christian” things you have accomplished? Have you settled for your own righteousness or are you humbling yourself to receive God’s?

Beth Moore writes, “Pride is not a circumstance.  It’s a state of mind.  It’s an equal opportunity agent of Satan-his absolute specialty.  We can become proud of our self-discipline, sacrificial giving, and self-denial as of our worldly successes and goods.”

Hear the whisper. Humble yourself. Exalt God. Place Him in the center. Even in your prayers.

Check out a wonderful post by Ann Voskamp on Scripture Memory here:


  1. payton

    Heather, thank you again for your encouraging blog and allowing me to share your words. I tried to find your email to assure you that I am not a crazy person (although that is up for debate) but someone who really loves how you remind me to live humbly with God in the center. Thanks again.

    • Heather MacFadyen

      Ha! I definitely do not think you are a crazy person. I am honored truthfully that you have gained so much from the blog. here is my email address: hmacdaddy@gmail.com

  2. Megan

    What a good reminder of humility. Realizing that he will exalted a humble man.. Really convicting and good. Thank you!

  3. Christin

    Yes, very good. It is important for us to remember our place. I hope to be of help and encouragement when I speak of #hellomornings or #b90days, not of a prideful attitude. My hope is to remember why I do these things, and it’s not to seek the approval of men, but it’s because of how much I need it as a sinner. How much I need that quiet time with God — how much I need to be in His word so I remain connected to Him.

    I don’t do it because it some latest “fad”. I do it because I need it. But this reminder is an important one, to keep our hearts in check, and in the right place. Thank you. 🙂

    • Heather MacFadyen

      so true Christin. I think that my state of mind in these “good things” can change quickly. It can change with whom i’m talking to. I found myself at one point spending my quiet time looking for things I could tweet that others would RT. Not a place I want to go back. the mindset of pride sneaks up on me ever so quietly and before I know it i am at the center of my “activities” and they aren’t for His glory but for mine. Thank you for stopping by!

  4. bluecottonmemory

    This story has been on my heart lately. It is such an important message to instill in our children as they grow. It touches my heart how the tax collector prayed such a simple, heart-felt message. No Big Words. Not eloquent. Just all his heart!


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