praying to god or self?
“Believe Me, this man went home from the temple justified but the other did not. For everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled while he who humbles himself shall be exalted.” —Luke 18:14
The Pharisee in today’s Gospel reading was not humble but self-centered. When he prayed, he “prayed to himself” (see Lk 18:11, RSV-CE) and talked more about himself than about God. Also, the Pharisee focused his prayer on himself by favorably comparing himself with a tax collector praying in the back of the Temple (Lk 18:11).
The Pharisee was destroying himself by his self-addiction. He was one of those “who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others” (Lk 18:9, RSV-CE). When we rely on ourselves, we will be unforgiving towards others, for “to err is human, to forgive is divine.” Only those relying on God’s power can forgive. Those relying on their own power cannot forgive.
When we don’t forgive, we ourselves are not forgiven, for the Lord told us to pray to be forgiven as we forgive those who sin against us (Mt 6:12). When we don’t receive God’s forgiveness, we don’t see Him as our loving Abba. Under these circumstances, we naturally tend to pray to ourselves rather than to God. Of course, this kind of prayer is meaningless at best. We may as well just stop praying — which many people have done. Our only hope of escaping from this damning dilemma is to repent of relying on ourselves and to give our lives totally to Christ (see Rm 7:24-25).
Prayer: Father, I give my heart to You so I can pray to You.
Promise: “A heart contrite and humbled, O God, You will not spurn.”—Ps 51:19
Praise: St. Cyril of Jerusalem defended the divinity of Christ despite much personal suffering.
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