The following article was published in a God Bless America magazine that was mailed to 52,000 residences in southern West Virginia over the last few weeks. Tonight we begin the 3 night gospel rally. Please pray that many will come to know the hope found only in Christ, and join us for the livestream broadcast at 7 pm at GodBlessAmericaRally.com.
On September 11, 2001 I watched news coverage in disbelief, like many across the country, as airplanes crashed into the Twin Towers in New York City. Weeks before I stood on the 107th floor observatory of the south tower. On that beautiful sunny day I had been in awe of the expansive views and miniature figures below. But on that sunny and yet dark day of 9/11 I could only think of one thing. During our visit we had spoken to a security guard at the World Trade Center. One of the young men with me had given him a piece of literature about Jesus Christ, similar to what you are reading now. I wondered…
Had he read the Bible verses about eternity? Was he at work that morning? Did he meet God that day?
In times of desperation we often turn to prayer. The days following 9/11 were marked by many people praying. I am sure at some point you have asked God for something. But have you prayed the most important prayer?
Jesus told the story of two men who went to the ancient temple of Israel to pray. They were very different men – one a religious man and the other a publican who had lived for material gain and worldly pleasure. They had one thing in common: they needed God. Their prayers, however, revealed different views of God and of themselves.
The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon 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 every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted (Luke 18:11-14).
The Pharisee’s prayer was really just him talking with himself; the publican was seeking God.
The Pharisee compared himself to others; the publican saw himself in comparison to the holiness of God.
The Pharisee’s prayer talked about all the good he had done; the publican confessed that he had done evil and could do nothing on his own to merit forgiveness.
The Pharisee was full of pride; the publican was empty and broken over his spiritual condition.
Jesus said it was the second man who went home “justified.” When we stop trusting ourselves and come to trust the Lord alone He promises to forgive our sin and give us His own righteousness. Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The most important prayer anyone ever prays is a sincere, humble prayer for mercy! Have you personally prayed this prayer?
- It is a confession of who God is: “Lord.” The God who created the world, who died for mankind and rose from the dead, He alone has the power to save.
- It is a confession of who we are: “a sinner.” We may be religious or far removed from it but we are all separate from God because of our sin.
- It is a confession of what we need: “be merciful to me.” You cannot impress God with your words or works – simply cry out to Him for mercy!
On the morning of 9/11 Al Braca was working in his office on the 104th floor of the World Trade Center. When it became evident he and his co-workers would not be able to evacuate many began to ask Al to pray for them. Everyone knew that he was a believer and some had often mocked his Christian faith. In the closing moments of life Al got a group of associates in a circle for prayer. According to family members of those present many of them called on the Lord for the first time.
God is so gracious to answer our prayers in difficult hours, but we should not wait on tragedy to pray. Would you be willing to pray the most important prayer of your life today? “Lord, be merciful to me a sinner.”