I still believe that some of the most powerful and profound prayers are the shortest and simplest ones: “God, help me.” I say this because I often find myself with no other words but ‘God, help me… Help me with ___.’ I also believe that pride is dangerous and easily acquired in our lives. That’s one of the things I often pray for help with. Pride steals our joy; it steals our feeling of true purpose and worth. It makes us overly sensitive and defensive, and it facilitates unforgiveness, resentment and unfair and grace-less judgment. Pride is a thief of all good things. I’m not claiming this as a new discovery or a brand new insight – simply a personal one.
The conviction of pride (and I almost think that true conviction requires ugly crying) is extremely painful and simultaneously liberating. The same goes for the confession of pride. Our ego is our sense of self-esteem and self-importance, and when that gets hurt it’s excruciating and disorienting. For those who truly seek God and desire to become more and more like Christ, and yet themselves are on a journey and may have an unhealthy level of ego, uncomfortable ego-checks are necessary. I say this because I’ve had them (and continue to). Do not pray for humility unless you’re ready for it. Who said sanctification/the path of discipleship was easy, anyway? At the same time, whenever I’m able to identify what my issue is – be it pride or something else – it’s indescribably freeing to let go of that burden . That usually involves lament, perhaps some embarrassment, and confession – all eventually followed by priceless peace.
I’m continually drawn to Philippians 2:
…But give me the strength that waits upon You in silence and peace. Give me humility in which alone is rest, and deliver me from pride which is the heaviest of burdens. And possess my whole heart and soul with the simplicity of love. Occupy my whole life with the one thought and the one desire of love, that I may love not for the sake of merit, not for the sake of perfection, not for the sake of virtue, not for the sake of sanctity, but for You alone. — Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation