Response Ability Week 2: Humility and Contrition in Prayer
Dear brothers and sisters,
In this series we have been talking about our ability to respond to God’s goodness – how we respond to his goodness and graciousness forms and shapes our own souls. Jesus mentions prayer, fasting, and giving as three basic disciplines of disciples. So far we’ve talked about carving out a specific time and place for daily prayer; and perseverance in prayer. Today we are going to be talking about a basic attitude of our hearts that we need in order to succeed in prayer. Sirach 35:21 says: The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds; it does not rest till it reaches its goal. This beautiful image on the one hand reminds us that there are “barriers” to our prayer, both earthly and supernatural – yet there is a special strength when we pray with a humble attitude that can pierce these barriers. Think about it: when anyone approach us humbly, asking and not demanding, we are more responsive to their request; and that should be our same attitude before the Lord in prayer. David’s prayer in Psalm 51 includes this line: My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a contrite, humbled heart, O God, you will not scorn (Ps 51:19). David makes this prayer after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba. No matter what we have done in the past, God will listen to us if we are contrite of heart. Two suggestions with prayer: first, we should on occasion pray before God on our knees, a gesture of humility in our bodily posture. We do this at every Mass during the Consecration, before the awesome Presence of Christ. Second, there needs to be a regular moment in our prayer, even daily, in which we confess our sins before God and ask for his mercy. This can include a regular examination of our consciences, as well as the Sacrament of Confession. Questions for Small Groups:
When has someone asked you for help or tried to sell you something and you were turned off by their pride or arrogance? When was a time an employee or a child asked for your help and you acquiesced because of their humility?
Who would you describe as a humble person? What makes them humble?
Read aloud Sirach 35:21. How does this verse provide motivation for prayer?
When you sin, are you less likely to go to God? How does Psalm 51 give you encouragement to go and pray?
Read aloud Psalm 51:19. How do we bring a contrite heart to God?
What is one thing you can do to become better at prayer?