Into the Abyss of Our Unworthiness
I will make an act of humility at the beginning of my prayer
by Catholic.net | Source: Catholic.net
Lord, I believe in you. I believe that you have created me and redeemed me from
sin. I believe that everything that is good in my life comes from you : my existence, my faith, my
education, what virtues I have. I come to you today in prayer to place my life before you. I know
that you are the source of all goodness in me. So often I wonder if I really know how to pray. I
wonder how fruitful my prayer is. In the face of my misery I offer you the one thing I know I can
offer: my humility before your majesty.
Lord, help me to be
humble when I approach you in prayer
1. Parallel Monologues, Not Conversation:
The Pharisee went up to the Temple to pray. We can assume that his intention was to talk with
God. As he stood there in the Temple, he thought he was praying: he was in the right place, he was
facing the right direction, he seemed to be doing the right thing. But his prayer was contorted. In
fact it was not prayer at all; it was a self-righteous discourse. If a friend were to ask him the
next day if he had said his prayers, he would have said, “Yes.” Is my own prayer sometimes a false
prayer like the Pharisee's? Do I think I am praying, doing all of the right things, but in
reality not praying at all and only justifying myself?
2. The Bare Minimum Does Not
The poor Pharisee gets painted as the "bad guy" in this parable. But in reality he
is not an outwardly evil person. He does not commit grave sins. He is honest, faithful to his wife,
generous in his giving. But his pride blinds him to a much deeper relationship with God. He lives
his religion as the bare minimum of not committing grave sins. His prayer is sterile. I must examine
myself to make sure I am not doing the same, thinking I am doing all the right things but in reality
barely living my faith. God does not ask us simply to avoid evil. He invites us to do good. True
generosity is what brings peace and fulfillment to our lives.
3. Humility - An Essential
Element of Prayer:
The tax collector is justified not because he has done all of the right
things, but because he has the humility to recognize his own sinfulness. Perhaps he even heard what
the Pharisee was saying and it moved him all the more to plead for God's mercy. One of the most
important characteristics of our prayer is that it be humble. When we go to pray we must approach
God recognizing our sinfulness and weakness and the fact that we have received everything good that
we have from him. This is what makes our prayer fruitful. God loves a humble, contrite
Conversation with Christ:
Dear Lord, grant me a humble, contrite heart.
You know my misery.
I offer you the misery of my sinfulness so that you can purify it
do with it as you will. I do not want to live my life merely avoiding the
I want to have a deep and intimate relationship with
you founded on substantial
I will always make an act of humility at the beginning
of my prayer.
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