The Wrong Way to Pray

“To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone 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 by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—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 all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”  (Luke 18:9–14)


In this parable, we see two very different prayers.

The first prayer is from a Pharisee. These people were religious leaders for Israel and considered to be a model of the spiritual life. The pharisee stood alone and prayed a prayer of comparison. In his eyes, he was much better “other people, the robbers, evildoers, adulterers.” His self-righteousness blinded him and he couldn’t see his personal sin.

The second prayer is from a tax collector. These people had a reputation for corruption and sin. He stood at a distance, he could not even lift his head and in anguish he hit his chest. He prayed a prayer of confession, and asked for God’s mercy because he was a sinner.

When we pray, it’s not about how much better we are than others. If you’ve been following Jesus then your live ought to be much different. Confessional prayer is about being honest with God about our sin and asking for his mercy. Confession in prayer transforms your guilt into something better gold, it strengthens your faith and restores your relationship with God.


Pharisee"saint" / community leader / spiritualpridecomparisoncontinued self-righteousness
Tax Collector"sinner" / corrupt / unspiritualhumilityconfessionjustified before God