A young lawyer who had just opened his law practice was sitting in his chair behind his new executive desk, waiting for his first client to come in. When he saw a man walking toward his office, he picked up the phone and began talking to his imaginary assistant. He said, “Yes, I am so busy right now. Ask them to call back. I have so many clients, I just don’t have time.” He hung up the phone, sure that he had just impressed his first visitor.
“I’m from the phone company,” the man said. “I’m here to connect your phone.”
That’s how it is for us when we try to impress God with things we say and do. Jesus told the story of two men who went up to the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee who prayed, “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” (Luke 18:11–12 NKJV).
The other was a tax collector who simply said, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” (verse 13 NKJV).
Jesus said of the tax collector, “This man went down to his house justified rather than the other” (verse 14 NKJV). The primary problem of the Pharisees, the religious elite, was that prayer, for them, was theater. It was a performance. They would stand praying on a street corner, and sometimes someone would sound a trumpet. Jesus was saying that God doesn’t care about things like that. They were so concerned with impressing people, but God wasn’t impressed.
The value of prayer is that it keeps us in touch with God. Prayer is getting closer to God. And that is why we should pray.