To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 18: 9-14
Begin your prayer by squarely facing the truth about yourself. God is truth; he does not tolerate deceit. When you come before him, be honest. Stand before him as you are: lazy, distracted, tired, wretched. To be sincere is to be humble. To begin with humility is a great psychological importance. Jesus taught us this when he drew the picture of the Pharisee and the Publican for us. Humility is the first component of love: humility is the hallmark of true Love.
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The poor publican made no promises to God. He did not even have courage to raise his eyes to him, but simply acknowledged himself as a sinner. This is all he does: he acknowledges his utter wretchedness and brings it to God, like a beggar showing his rags to the passer-by and it is then that the miracle happens.
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It take very little to move the heart of God. Jesus seems to be saying : just be honest, take off your masks and God fills you to the brim with his grace.
Don’t think that starting your prayer like this is a waste of time. It is not just a preparatory step to prayer, it is real prayer, in fact, it is already love.
The Prayer of the Heart, Andrea Gasparino