Summary: Why do we pray?
Story: Leonardo da Vinci took seven years to paint his famous picture the "Last Supper".
He used living people to depict the figures representing the Twelve Apostles and Christ.
He started the fresco with Christ. It is reputed that he viewed hundreds and hundreds of men looking for one who most perfectly exhibited the innocence and beauty he was looking for. A face and personality unaffected by sin.
Eventually he found a young man 19 years old and for the next six months he worked on the face and demeanour of Christ using this young man as his model.
Over the next six years, he found appropriate people to represent each of the Apostles, with a space being left for the figure representing Judas Iscariot – which he left as the final task of the masterpiece.
For weeks, Da Vinci searched in vain for a man with a hard, callused face and a countenance marked by scars of avarice and deceit. A man who could depict the man, who would betray his best friend.
After much discouragement, word came to Da Vinci that a man whose appearance fully met the requirements had been found.
He was in a dungeon in Rome, sentenced to die for a life of crime and murder.When Da Vinci arrived he found the epitome of what he was looking for. A man who was wretched, unkempt and vicious - the perfect Judas.
By special order of the king, the man was taken to Milan, where the fresco was being painted. When the picture was finally finished and the warders came from Rome to retrieve their prisoner.
As he was leaving, the man turned to Da Vinci and said. "Don’t you recognise me" he said.
Leonardo replied: "I’ve never seen you before in my life"
The man broke down sobbing. "Have I sunk so low" he said " Seven years ago, you used me as your model for Jesus!"
You can’t judge a book by its cover. Man looks on the outside but God sees the heart.
He is not interested what we look like but where our heart is, what our attitudes are.
In this morning’s gospel reading Luke 18:9-14 (quickview)  Jesus focuses on prayer - using the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector to encourage us to come with a right attitude to God.
We can fool our friends, we can even fool ourselves but we can’t fool God.
Prayer is very precious to God.
“Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel’s hand.”
I would like to look at two aspects from this parable today.
1. The impact that the parable would have had on Jesus’ audience
2. Our motivation to pray?
1. Let us look at the first aspect:
The Impact of the Parable
For many of us who have heard the story in church many times, the impact of the parable has been lost.