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The right to be heard

[II Tim. 3:10–15; Luke 18:10–14] Yes­ter­day the Gospel read­ing taught us per­sis­tence in prayer, and now it teach­es humil­i­ty, or a feel­ing of hav­ing no right to be heard. Do not assume that you have the right to be heard, but approach prayer as one unwor­thy of any at­ ten­tion, allow­ing your­self only the bold­ness need­ed to open your mouth and raise up your prayer to God, know­ing the Lord’s bound­less con­de­scen­sion toward us poor ones. Do not even allow the thought to come to your mind, “I did such and such — so give me such and such.” Con­sid­er what­ev­er you might have done as your oblig­a­tion. If you had not done it you would have been sub­ject to pun­ish­ment, and what you did is actu­al­ly noth­ing deserv­ ing reward; you did not do any­thing spe­cial. That Phar­isee enu­mer­at­ed his rights to be heard, and left the church with noth­ing. The harm is not that he had actu­al­ly done as he said, for indeed he should have done it. The harm is that he present­ ed it as some­thing spe­cial; where­as, hav­ing done it he should have thought no more of it. Deliv­er us, O Lord, from this sin of the Phar­isee! One rarely speaks as the Phar­isee in words, but in the feel­ings of the heart, one is rarely unlike him. For why is it that peo­ple pray bad­ly? It is because they feel as though they are just fine in the sight of God, even with­out praying.

Saint Theo­phan the Recluse