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Prayers for Humility?


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#1 Daniela S.

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Posted 24 January 2014 - 12:42 AM

Greetings to All,
Would anyone like to offer their favorite prayers for humility? I know of the Lenten prayer of St Ephrem, but are there others specifically for help with our pride? I searched onlne but did not find any, strangely.
In Christ,
Daniela

#2 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 24 January 2014 - 10:24 AM

Humility has to be learned. Read Part II of 'Saint Silouan the Athonite', especially Chapter III which has several prayers for humility.

 

St Silouan and Elder Sophrony follow the Holy Fathers in recognising two forms of humility. The first is termed 'ascetic humility' which consists in our spiritual warfare against pride; we should aim to reach a point at which we consider ourselves to be the worst of all men and deserving of every punishment of hell, to which may be added loneliness there. In this, however we are not to despair: 'Keep thy mind in hell, and despair not.' There are two kinds of despair. The first is a godly despair in which we see our wretchedness and feel we shall never be as the Lord would have us be. The second is an evil despair from the enemy in which we think we cannot be saved.

 

The second form of humility is termed 'divine humility' and this consists in the gift from God of the humility of Christ, His all-holy Mother, and of the saints. It is the visitation of grace which fills the heart with that love which yearns for the salvation of all men, especially our enemies. Divine humility is the bearing of all things from all people, and is the way of Christ, a way which leads by the cross to resurrection. This is the journey downwards which leads to our ascension.



#3 Lakis Papas

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Posted 24 January 2014 - 12:42 PM

I suggest Psalms. They are great prayers for humility learning.



#4 Marie+Duquette

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Posted 24 January 2014 - 01:57 PM

"Learn from me that I am meek and huble of heart."  This is a word spoken by Jesus Christ, Himself in the Scriptures.  Prayers are good, but learning from Christ Jesus is better.  Look at Him.  Read His life,  Learn from Him what is this "better part" called humility of heart!  Also reading the lives of the Saints and of the Theotokos will show us the true "Way".



#5 Andrew Pantelli

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Posted 24 January 2014 - 06:06 PM

Thank you so much Marie+Duquette for reminding me that Christ Jesus drew us to Himself with His words of love! Prayers are essential are they not? for it is a conversation with the Lord our God!



#6 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 24 January 2014 - 06:24 PM

We need to keep in mind that humility is the prerequisite to repentance. As St Ignatii Brianchaninov says:

 

Humility and the repentance which comes from it are the only conditions under which Christ is received! Humility and repentance are the only price by which the knowledge of Christ is purchased! Humility and repentance make up the only moral condition from which one can approach Christ, to be taken in by Him! Humility and repentance are the only sacrifice which requites, and which God accepts from fallen man (cf. Ps 50:18–19). The Lord rejects those who are infected with pride, with a mistaken opinion of themselves, who consider repentance to be superfluous for them, who exclude themselves from the list of sinners. They cannot be Christians.



#7 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 24 January 2014 - 08:45 PM

We need to remember that humility includes acceptance of God's will (which acceptance attracts great grace). In the Lord's Prayer, we say, 'Thy will be done' (though we usually prefer our will to be done). All the more so, we see in the prayer of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane Christ's own acceptance of His Father's will.



#8 Daniela S.

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Posted 25 January 2014 - 04:09 AM

I thought perhaps someone had found a particular prayer or psalm helpful in times when tempted into pridefulness. For example, we cannot always stop and read a book before or during a work meeting, but perhaps there are prayers which we could learn by heart and pray during these times. I use the Jesus Prayer, but perhaps there are others? My pride has become a terrible stumbling block.

#9 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 25 January 2014 - 12:39 PM

Prayer may not be the most useful starting point. We cannot constrain God. If prayer is to be effective, we need to create the inner conditions which make our prayer acceptable to God. In the parable of the publican and the pharisee, the pharisee we see was praying to God and giving thanks to Him but he was not ‘justified’ because his inner condition was not right. The publican, before going to the temple, must have contemplated his sinfulness and acknowledged his wretchedness so that he reached a condition in which he saw how far from God he was and what a repository of evil he was, both in terms of his outward behaviour and his inner disposition.


Prayer, including the Jesus Prayer, will be beneficial if convict ourselves of every sin, and humble ourselves to a point of such deep repentance that we feel ourselves to be the lowest of all things living. We condemn ourselves and ‘exact our own punishment’, seeing ourselves as deserving of every torment and unworthy of God. Our only impulse then is to seek with our whole being mercy and forgiveness of God. If we pray to God in such a spirit, even just the words of the publican, then we ‘shall be delivered’.
 



#10 Daniela S.

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Posted 25 January 2014 - 01:13 PM

Dear Andreas,
I always enjoy reading your responses because they are very thoughtful and true. Thank you. I have to ask this question though; if we need help with a sin which we know we are enslaved to, cannot overcome through any efforts of our own, and realize that only God can help us, where do we start if not with prayer? Don't we begin everything with prayer in the church? I'm not looking to just argue a point, believe me! I thought that our Tradition teaches us that sometimes only prayer can give the clarity and strength we need before entering a situation which we know is going to tempt us in some way.

#11 Rick H.

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Posted 25 January 2014 - 03:07 PM

I hear what you are saying Marie.  Yes, the true "Way."   Deep calling to deep is not always understood at the time. Regardless of our addictions, temptations, or shortcomings and how we deal with them, understanding what you are saying is how we keep from using religious techniques as a means to an end resulting in a kind of pragmatic spirituality, which often results in a kind of neurotic mysticism. Hearing and knowing what you are saying is how we avoid religion as a sickness.  I undertand that we should never expect the end of a process in the beginning, or the middle; but, I am very glad there are those who continue to call out to us along the way, pointing to the true "Way."



#12 Rick H.

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Posted 25 January 2014 - 03:41 PM

"I thought that our Tradition teaches us that sometimes only prayer can give the clarity and strength we need before entering a situation which we know is going to tempt us in some way."

 

 

Sometimes prayer gives clarity and strength, sometimes looking down at late winter crocuses on the ground by one's mailbox gives clarity and strength.



#13 Lakis Papas

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Posted 25 January 2014 - 06:15 PM


I thought perhaps someone had found a particular prayer or psalm helpful in times when tempted into pridefulness. For example, we cannot always stop and read a book before or during a work meeting, but perhaps there are prayers which we could learn by heart and pray during these times. I use the Jesus Prayer, but perhaps there are others? My pride has become a terrible stumbling block.


Fathers suggest to procced by following the commandments, we should not try to get virtues as first goal. By following the commands, as our first goal, our passions will grandualy turn into virtues as we keep our mind in being faithful to the law of God. This is our duty, then the Spirit will transform us, our transformation is not our work. We should ask God to give us the power to do His will, everything else is secondary. I think we should concentrate on taking part in the Worship and on doing God's will.

Edited by Lakis Papas, 25 January 2014 - 06:16 PM.


#14 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 25 January 2014 - 06:21 PM

Inner and real humility is for one to feel, that whatever he has, life, health, wealth, wisdom are all foreign – all are gifts from God. Elder Joseph the Hesychast

Prayer to Your Patron Saint

Saint (Name), Holy Mother of God and all the saints, who have pleased God in Your lives;
pray to Christ my Lord that I might live this day in peace love and humility.


Pray unto God for me, O Holy Saint (Name), well-pleasing to God: for I turn to you, who are a speedy helper and
intercessor for my soul.

#15 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 25 January 2014 - 07:31 PM

Daniela wrote: I have to ask this question though; if we need help with a sin which we know we are enslaved to, cannot overcome through any efforts of our own, and realize that only God can help us, where do we start if not with prayer? Don't we begin everything with prayer in the church? I'm not looking to just argue a point, believe me! I thought that our Tradition teaches us that sometimes only prayer can give the clarity and strength we need before entering a situation which we know is going to tempt us in some way.


Let me stress that what I say is not from me but from those who taught me as well as from reading. Before, we were talking about how to acquire humility. Now, we are turning to a more specific matter. Some do feel that they are enslaved to some passion which becomes a sin when it is ‘activated’. As Christ, says we can do nothing on our own, nothing without Him. You then allude to two different situations. First, times when one is assaulted by some passion and one then sins in that passion. You ask if prayer is not then our first recourse in turning to God. Secondly, prayer in the church. Of course, we need both private and communal prayer.


In the first situation, there are two points. Prayer to avoid the sin, and then prayer when we fail to avoid the sin. In the second situation, prayer in church and partaking in the sacraments of confession and Holy Communion complements and strengthens our prayer and efforts in the first situation.


In beseeching God’s help to overcome some temptation, we must consider whether the particular temptation is being permitted by God to humble us (as the Holy Fathers say, eg St Theophan the Recluse). We recognise our weakness and vulnerability and this should teach us humility. We can certainly pray about this. When we fall into sin, we again acknowledge our weakness and beg God’s mercy and forgiveness. It’s the old story: we fall, and get up again, fall and get up again.


In short, we pray not to fall into sin (as in the services, eg ‘Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us this evening without sin.’), and when we do sin, we pray for forgiveness.


Having said all this, we can only talk in general terms here, and an individual’s specific questions about personal struggle are something to be discussed with his or her spiritual father.
 



#16 Rick H.

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Posted 25 January 2014 - 07:51 PM

". . . our transformation is not our work."

 

Sometimes I wonder how many people who subscribe to an Orthodox Christian based asceticism truly understand this.



#17 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 25 January 2014 - 08:43 PM

I do hope that practising Orthodox Christians do 'truly understand' what Pascha and Pentecost are about.



#18 Phoebe K.

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Posted 25 January 2014 - 09:31 PM

Of course humility is not something we gain alone if we seek to gain it in truth.  

 

We need not only to pray for humility but as St Siluan and others advise seeking to be obedient in the process of gaining humility, this only being achievable in a community.  We can seek obedience in our relationships in church and family as well as in our relationship to our confessor or Spiritual Father.  For it is in relationship that we can find our true being, for we are not a christian alone but in the Body of Christ the Church.

 

Phoebe



#19 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 26 January 2014 - 08:22 AM

It is as Phoebe says: we must subdue our own will in relation to others, and not only that but, like Christ, bear all wrongs and insults. As St Theophan the Recluse says, 'Beware of your own self as your bitterest enemy and do not follow your own will.' He goes on to say we must even be aware of the pride which may come from doing good in an indiscriminate way with 'hypocritical zeal'; holy thoughts are like wolves in sheep's clothing.



#20 Lakis Papas

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Posted 26 January 2014 - 10:58 AM

Let me add to the previous very interesting and meaningful posts, that humility occurs after awareness of our mistakes and self knowledge of our shortcomings. For this reason, God allows the devil to tempt us and then to fall into sin from our inability to be self-perfect, thus we realize our inadequacy in practice.
 
Humility is not an ideology, or attitude that we embrace as one of our acquired characteristics. Humility is the awareness of reality that we are dust and ashes. Humility is an important part of self-knowledge offered by the proposal for ascetic life by the Church. The process of self-discovery is not a learning process, it is a process of experience - it is a process of entrenching experiences of failures.
 
Many people try to become humble and they feel that they fail. This is a very nice beginning for gaining humility. The awareness of our failure indicates practically that we fail to meet our target based on our own means. This knowledgeable experience is what humility is all about!
 
Ascetic life does not seek our self-righteousness. Rather, it aims high, at goals that can not be achieved. The Christian understands their inability to meet their high goals, thus they acquire humble spirit, that is, they deliver their life/existence to the Mercy of God, hoping that God will bless their failure. In other words, being a Christian is about authentically and genuinely trying to perform God's will, and at the same time having the certainty of failure of success - but hoping that God's will bless their insufficiency in a way that is not known to them.
 
Saints are truthful when they say that they are unworthy and they confide their hopes in God. By imitating their ascetic lifestyle we try to participate in their experiential unworthiness and in their hope in God's mercy.
 
So, attaining humility is about experiencing unworthiness in combination to asking for God's mercy and hoping for God's mercy.





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