In Luke 18, Jesus tells us about two men, a Pharisee and a tax collector, who went to a temple to pray. He says, in verses 11 through 14, “The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people–cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income. But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those that humble themselves will be exalted.”
This is a good reminder to us that God and Jesus know exactly what is in our hearts and they know all of our failings as well as our points of honor. Jesus uses the Pharisees as examples a lot in the Gospels because they were the most strict adherents to mosaic law and placed a lot of emphasis on religious ritual. While Jesus does not disregard all religious ritual it is clear from his teachings that loving other people and showing mercy are far more important to him than adhering to the letter of religious law.
God and Christ want us to humble ourselves before them and admit our failings and ask forgiveness. They want us to pray for the help that we need in the areas that we are struggling with; in truth they are probably already helping us in these areas anyway, but they want us to empty our souls to them so that we can be in an honest relationship with them about our spiritual struggles. They are infinitely merciful but they want us to acknowledge that they know the deepest areas of our hearts and minds and know our motivations and intentions, so that they can help us in our spiritual journey and move us further along the path of trying to emulate their righteousness and sacred nature.
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