In prayer, tone matters
Written by Pastor Jon Heeringa

I’ve learned that “tone” matters in talking to people, and I think the same is true when we talk to God.

Jesus makes this point in Luke 18:9-14 when He tells the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. The Pharisee’s tone is arrogant and entitled as he essentially brags to God about how good he is. In contrast, the tax collector’s tone is humble and confessional. He stands at a distance, won’t even lift his head but beats his breast and begs, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” And apparently, the tax collector’s tone made a difference, as Jesus tells us that he, rather than the Pharisee, went home justified.

So what is the “tone” of your prayers? Given we have a living, breathing, dynamic relationship with God, I think we can have a variety of tones in our prayers, ranging from a casual one like talking to a friend to a childlike one like talking to our Abba, Father, to a reverent one remembering we are talking to a holy God.

But a staple in all our prayers should be a confessional, humble tone. Like the tax collector, we should humbly confess we are sinners and beg for mercy. And that is how we, too, go home justified.