Humble Prayer (Sunday 15 June)

Morning Encounter


A Pharisee and a Tax Collector

Jesus told a story to some people who thought they were better than others and who looked down on everyone else: Two men went into the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood over by himself and prayed, “God, I thank you that I am not greedy, dishonest, and unfaithful in marriage like other people. And I am really glad that I am not like that tax collector over there. I go without eating for two days a week, and I give you one tenth of all I earn.” The tax collector stood off at a distance and did not think he was good enough even to look up toward heaven. He was so sorry for what he had done that he pounded his chest and prayed, “God, have pity on me! I am such a sinner.” Jesus said, “When the two men went home, it was the tax collector and not the Pharisee who was pleasing to God. If you put yourself above others, you will be put down. But if you humble yourself, you will be honoured.” (Luke 18.9-14)


In this second parable on prayer, Jesus highlights the spirit in which people should pray. Jesus tells a story about a Pharisee who has all the right credentials but full of pride and with no sense of sin or humility before God. In fact much of his prayer concerns his good ness rather than God’s goodness. The tax collector (known for their dishonesty) is very aware of his position before God, but it is his prayer which is honoured. The ancient liturgical prayer Kyrie Eleison (Lord, have mercy) comes from this parable. As does the famous Jesus Prayer, ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’


Henri Nouwen used to say that when we go to pray, our thoughts jump around our minds like monkeys in banana trees. It may be helpful at the beginning of our prayer time to settle our thoughts by repeating the phrase ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner’ a few times to help you bring your prayers to God.


Midday Meditation:

I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time - waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God - it changes me. (C.S. Lewis)


Evening Reflection:

I pray to you, LORD! Please listen when I pray and hurry to help me. Think of my prayer as sweet-smelling incense, and think of my lifted hands as an evening sacrifice. (from Psalm 141)

You may also like



Bring the Bible to life and discover our suite of Lyfe resources for small groups and individuals.

Bible Society and lyfe app

Bible Society and lyfe app

This free app for iOS and Android provides you with our latest updates, and Daily lyfe to help you connect with God on-the-go.

Search the Bible

Search the Bible

Looking to read the Bible online, or search for a bible verse or specific word? This is the place for you!

Bringing the Bible to life

Bible Society, Stonehill Green, Westlea, Swindon, SN5 7DG. Registered charity 232759

Read the Bible icon Read Bible
Open full Bible