In the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector, should the publican have asked for mercy not expecting to receive it?
“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. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:10-15).
The publican knew himself to be a sinner (v. 13), and this realization opened the way for God to pronounce him sinless—a sinner justified by divine mercy (v. 13). The Holy Spirit somehow comforted him. The tax collector went home knowing he was justified in the eyes of His God.
When we pray, the Holy Spirit speaks to our hearts to give us the peace that God has heard our prayers. Many that pray earnestly receive God’s assurance and they somehow know that their prayers got through to God and that it’s all in His very capable hands.
But don’t wait for a feeling to know that God has heard your prayer for faith is more than just a feeling. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Genuine faith always rests upon the firm, underlying “substance” of sufficient evidence to warrant confidence in what is not yet seen. The Love of God which was shown on the Cross is the greatest evidence for the believer.
By faith, the Christian considers himself already in possession of what has been promised him. His utter confidence in the One who has made the promises leaves no uncertainty to their fulfillment.
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In His service,