In last week’s readings, we were encouraged to remain persistent and constant in our prayer life. Today, we focus on the proper attitude of a steward at prayer.
Be merciful to me a sinner
In the Gospel passage from Luke, Jesus illustrates the humble attitude we must have as we approach God in prayer through a parable of two praying men. One is a Pharisee, a man with respected status, theological training and all the right credentials. He marches right up to the front of the temple to speak a prayer “to himself,” thanking God for making him just a little bit superior to everyone else!
The other man is a tax collector, known by those of his day to be a cheater and a sell-out to his fellow Jews. In contrast to the Pharisee, he stands near the back and cries out to God in a simple and honest way:
“Be merciful to me a sinner.”
Jesus tells us that it is the tax collector and not the Pharisee who leaves the temple justified. Why?
This is how a good steward prays
The Pharisee was full of self as he approached God. He felt no real need for God as he rattled off his resume of good works and spiritual practices. He was simply going through the motions of prayer. His lack of humility prevented him from entering into a real dialogue with the Father. The tax collector, by contrast, emptied himself as he approached God. He recognized who he truly was (a sinner) and asked for mercy, leaving all the rest up to God. This is the kind of attitude God can work with!
This is how a good steward prays — with trust, with complete openness to God’s will, with a listening mind and heart, ready to serve as God leads.