Summary: Prayer that pleases God: 1. is humble prayer (vs. 9-13). 2. is heartfelt prayer (vs. 13). 3. is helpful prayer (vs. 14).
Prayer that Pleases God
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - March 9, 2014
*Have you ever prayed a prayer that seemed kind of silly looking back? Steve Brown told about a little girl who was praying when her dad walked into room. And he heard her say over and over again, "Tokyo, Tokyo, Tokyo."
*Dad was curious and asked her, "What kind of prayer is that?" His little girl replied, "I had a test in school today. And I was praying that God would make Tokyo the capital of France." (1)
*Years ago, Garth Brooks had a pretty good song that said, "Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers." At least some of us can relate to that. But here in God's Word the Lord teaches us about the kind of prayer God wants to answer. He teaches us about prayers that please God. Let's begin by reading Luke 18:9-14.
*The Pharisee's prayer was obnoxious to God, but the tax collector's prayer pleased the Lord. What's the difference?
1. First: Prayer that pleases God is humble prayer.
*Jesus' main reason for telling this parable was to highlight the difference between prideful and humble hearts. And the people who first heard this story were shocked at the way it turned out. When the Lord put His stamp of approval on the tax collector over the Pharisee in vs. 14, they were stunned!
*That's because the Pharisees were considered to be the holy ones. The word "Pharisee" means "set-apart," and that's what they diligently tried to be. They were extremely strict. They zealously tried to follow God's Old Testament laws. But the Pharisees went even beyond the Scripture, and invented thousands of man-made rules to obey.
*Alan Perkins explained that it's hard for us to understand how shocked the people of Jesus' day were to hear this parable. After we've studied the Bible for a while, we learn how hard hearted and hypocritical the Pharisees were. So when we read the word "Pharisee" we are likely to think, hypocrite! We assume that the Pharisee is going to be the villain of the passage.
*But for the Jews in Jesus' day, the initial reaction would have been exactly opposite. They would have assumed that the Pharisee was the hero of the story, because they were so highly respected. The Pharisees weren't scorned as hypocrites. On the contrary, they were admired as devout men, and looked up to as examples of godliness. (2)
*But underneath the surface, there was great corruption in the ranks of the Pharisees, and one of their biggest problems pride. Notice who Jesus was speaking to in vs. 9: "He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others."
*The Pharisee's problem was pride, and James 4:6 tells us that "God resists the proud." So Jesus gave this warning in vs. 14: "Everyone who exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.''
*Timothy Proctor wrote that "many of the Pharisees were conceited, pompous people. Many of them were selfish, holier-than-thou, judgmental, legalistic and mean-spirited. If you disagreed with their teachings, they would happily beat or even kill you, completely convinced that they were pleasing God.
*We can imagine this Pharisee swaggering through the temple courts, strutting like a peacock, looking for the perfect place to be seen by everyone else. This man didn't go to the temple to pray to God. He went to make a public announcement of his own goodness." (3)
*Many of the Pharisees had a bad case of spiritual "I" disease. We can see it in vs. 11&12, where Jesus said:
11. "The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.
12. 'I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.'
*"I, I, I, I, I." -- The Pharisee had the "I" disease. So, does Satan. The Word of God shows us back in Isaiah 14:12-15. There the Bible says this about the devil:
12. "How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations!
13. For you have said in your heart: 'I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north;
14. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.'
15. Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit."
*Again, it was "I, I, I, I, I." And the "I" disease reveals Satan's self-centeredness. "I, I, I. -- It's all about me." It also reveals Satan's self-righteousness. For anyone to even think: "I'm better than God!" is the height of arrogance. The "I" disease also reveals Satan's strong and selfish willfulness: "I will. I will. I will."