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Men at Prayer

Doorways to Prayer: God's Mercy

  • Ralph Lehman
  • July 15, 2022

Have mercy, and you will pray more.

 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  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.’” Luke 18:10-11

In all the years of reading this verse or hearing it preached, I have focused on what the Pharisee prayed. Perhaps there have even been times when I have been grateful to God that I do not pray such prayers as this Pharisee. But in preparing for this article, for the first time I was struck by what he did not pray.

His disgust at the other man praying may have been well founded, as tax collectors were despised for good reason - extorting money from their fellow Jews, collaborating with the Romans, enjoying an indulgent lifestyle at the expense of their neighbors. Yet his relationship with God seemed to have no bearing on his relationship with other people, this tax collector included. The Pharisee was content for the tax collector to remain mired in his sinfulness.

Which then raises the point of, “What was his relationship with God?” Jesus made the point that he who has been forgiven much will love much. He who understands how much God has forgiven us will be forgiving towards others. The Pharisee could still view the tax collector as deeply flawed and sinful yet pray for him, but he did not. We have Christ as our example, who left the presence of God to dwell among us and die for our sins.

The persecuted Church seems to have a limitless supply of stories of Christians who have prayed for those who have beaten them or killed family members. Their capacity to love and forgive is far beyond what I have been willing to do, and this leads me to believe that they have a deeper understanding of God’s mercy towards them than I have of God’s mercy towards me.

We’re pleased to offer our free course, “Parameters of Prayer”, a six-lesson study that can help you stretch out and go deeper in your prayers. It’s a free resource you can use for leadership training or making disciples. Each of the six lessons has seven parts. Read and reflect, then answer the questions for discussion at the end. You can take the course on your own, or one of our Fellowship Brothers will happily meet with you via Zoom to review each lesson. If you’re interested, send an email to David Timbie at
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Readers are available to work with you through the course, or you can take it on your own.

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