Week beginning: 3rd July, 2016

By Jeremy Cooke | London

"The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself..."

Luke 18:11 (NIV 1984)

I'm not like them, am I?

I am not like that Pharisee. When I pray, I do not thank God that I am not like other men - like my work colleagues - constantly going after the money and status, always seeking to promote myself and my smart lawyering. I'm a Christian. Whoooops!

Here I go again, in the words of the 1960s song. It's insidious isn't it? We may not actually pray in those terms but it is in our thinking, and our praying is so much about ourselves and what we think God ought to do for us.

We are so much more self-centred than we realise. Don't you pray most earnestly when praying about yourself? How much of your praying focusses on your needs, your aims, your plans, your desires – asking the Lord to do what you want Him to do? And how much is on His aims, plans and desires and what He wants not just you, but others to do? His kingdom, His righteousness?

It is often said that you can tell what a Christian really cares about - what you and I really care about - by asking three questions. First- what do I spend time on? Second- what do I spend money on? Third- what do I pray most about?

A spot of self-examination does not go amiss here.
"Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?" Rom. 7:24 (ESV)
"God, have mercy on me, a sinner." Luke 18:13 (NIV-1984)

Prayer points:

1. Seek forgiveness from the Lord for the times you have made your prayers more about you than about Him.
2. Take time to offer afresh to God your time, money and prayers and ask Him to direct your heart and mind to His thoughts and ways.