(From Citation 3436 in "What Luther Says")
this reason Christ Himself also significantly adds the phrase “in My
name.” He wants to teach that without
faith no real prayer can be offered and that apart from Christ no one is able
to pray a single letter that is worth anything before God and acceptable to
Him. This is the nature of the prayers
of all Turks, Jews, monks, and hypocrites. For all appear before God with the
notion that He should take into consideration their own merit and holiness or
those of another and commend and crown them because of that, as the hypocrite
prayed (Luke 18:11): “God, I thank Thee that I am not as other men are,” as if
to say: “I am not in need of Thy grace and mercy but have well merited a
favorable hearing.” He does not want to
take from God; but he wants to give to Him, so that God must pay and be glad
that He gets a man so holy as His friend.
But God says no to this. He will
neither hear nor heed the prayer of anybody unless he comes relying on His pure
grace and mercy in Christ and says with the publican: “God, be merciful to me,
a poor sinner.” - Luther
Few things are more dangerous to a Christian than a desire for God to behold their own works. Seriously - few things end up being more dangerous because this shift to one's own works is as deadly as any wild and wicked, open and manifest sin -- but this shift, this is a grave sin, but hidden under a veneer of self-righteousness and delusion. Why would I want God to look upon my works - why would I want God to behold me -- I have no life in and of myself, my life is Christ and Christ alone. When God sees me, let Him behold His Son, for I am washed and covered in the blood of the Lamb, indeed, I am part of His own Body - not some independent agent of righteousness. When the Father hears me pray, let Him not hear me, but hear His Son interceding for me, hear the Spirit praying for and through me. Because if it is left to me, there is only death. If it is left to Christ, there is salvation and mercy and life and forgiveness.
God save me from my own ego!