The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God. (Psalm 51:17)
Praying to God is not about outward appearance, but an inward conviction of the heart. It requires a proper attitude and humble heart. If you pray with a sincere heart, then God will hear your prayers. However, if you pray with a closed heart that only criticizes others, while elevating yourself, then you might as well stop praying.
Those who are poor in spirit recognize their need for God. They are broken and incomplete, so they turn to God for help. They seek His mercy and ask for His forgiveness. They know that God is holy, so they treat Him with utmost respect. Their righteousness does not come through outward appearance, but merely from trusting Him.
However, the proud in spirit think only of themselves. They believe that they are declared righteousness before God based on their good works. Their conduct and understanding is perfect and far superior to anyone else. They do not see their own sin, and they have no need for forgiveness, because they are spotless before God.
The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector:
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. (Luke 18:9-14)
I recognize my own need to become poor in spirit, so that I can receive your mercy and grow in your grace. Forgive me of trying to maintain my pride by boasting in my good works and criticizing others. I want to be justified before God, just like the tax collector. I trust you to save me by your grace and to declare me in right standing before God. Thank you for showing me my need for your salvation. Amen.