Few words are needed to paint the publican, for his estimate of himself is simple and one, and what he wants from God is one thing, and one only.  His attitude expresses his emotions, for he does not venture to go near the shining example of all respectability and righteousness nor to lift his eyes to heaven.  Like the penitent psalmist, his iniquities have taken hold of him, so that he is “not able to look up.”  Keen consciousness of sin, true sorrow for sin, earnest desire to shake off the burden of sin, lowly trust in God’s pardoning mercy are all crowded into his brief petition.  The arrow, thus feathered, goes straight up to the throne.  The Pharisee’s prayer cannot rise above his own lips. – Alexander Maclaren (1826-1910), from a meditation on Luke 18.1-14.


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