In the bulletin « He is here ! » n° 11, we recalled that, for our prayer to be true, to put us in contact with God and to transform us little by little, it must be an act of faith, an act of hope and an act of love. We have explained the importance of faith in the life of orison. Today, we shall speak of hope.
To pray is an act of hope. If we start praying it is because we rely on God, we expect from Him all that is necessary for us.
This attitude of hope is of special importance because a life of orison does not exist without some kind of experience of poverty, sometimes a very painful one. Prayer is a paradoxical reality: Sometimes it makes us feel immense happiness, such as a fullness, greater than anything the world can offer us, but in other moments, we experience great poverty.
Why is this unavoidable?
Poor before God
First of all because there is no technique allowing us to always pray well. God is the Master ; we depend on him who, sometimes remains silent and hidden in spite of our efforts, sometimes visits us and fulfills us without us deserving it…one cannot « schedule » the gift and the divine blessings.
Otherwise, prayer makes us enter deeper and deeper in the light of God, sometimes joyful and comforting, but sometimes painful and humiliating, because it shows clearly our defects, our sins, our wounds…As the ray of sun crosses a dark room and reveals the smallest speck of dust floating in the air, so the light of God shows harshly our misery…
In the loneliness and silence of prayer, without our usual supports, all our falls, our mistakes, our difficulty in collecting our thoughts, our remorses from the past or fears for the future, our angers
and bitternesses, our pride and our hardness of heart come up to our conscience… it is always more comfortable to concentrate on our work, to surf on the internet or to chat with friends! This experience of poverty is all the harder because our desire for holiness is greater…
What makes us run away from silent orison is often fear, because we forsee it will be unavoidable , if we stand in the presence of God, that He attacks our mediocrity and brings to light everything that has to be purified in our life ! This experience of poverty must not worry us though; it is normal and even absolutely necessary. Jesus said one day to King St Louis of France: « You would like to pray like a saint, I for one invite you to pray like a pauper.»
Obviously, prayer is not the only time we experience poverty. All our life and its difficult situations, make us experience our weaknesses, our wounds, our sins. However, prayer intensifies our consciousness of all that and obliges us to face it without any possible escape.
To practice Hope
Therefore, prayer must become an act of hope, which could be expressed in the following way « I feel quite poor and miserable in front of you, Lord, much more than what I could imagine, but it is not a problem … I remember « it’s not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick » and also that you have not come to « call the righteous but sinners » and I put in you all my hope ! I hope and
I expect everything from you, from your goodness and from your mercy ! I rely on you alone and not on myself ! »
What saves us from sadness or despondency is a double attitude: humility and hope. We have to consent to be what we are, to accept the cruel revelation of our limits and our faults, but use it to learn putting our trust, all our trust and hope in God alone and no longer in our abilities and achievements. « Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted » (Lc 18,14)
Through those words, the Gospel invites us to recognize and fully accept our misery, however deep and painful it may be, and to throw ourselves in God’ arms, with a blind trust in his mercy and
his power. We have to accept ourselves as being radically poor and transform this poverty into a cry, an expectation, an unvanquished hope. Even if we may have, sometimes, to hope against all
hope! (Rm 4,18) Then God will come to our aid.
« A poor man cried and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles » (Ps 34,6)
« For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard when he cried out to him. » (Ps. 22, 24).
The prayer God hears is that of the poor. « The prayer of the humble pierces the clouds » (Si 35,17) He does not welcome the prayer of the pharisee, satisfied with himself and with his good deeds, who despises the others, but the publican’s prayer who stands far off and beats his breast saying « God, be merciful to me a sinner ! (Lc 18,13)
The prayer, which touches the heart of God and attracts his grace, is the one that springs from the depth of our misery and our sin.
« Out of the depths I cry to thee O Lord, Lord hear my voice! » (Ps.130,1)
« The more a soul has hope, the more she will be in union with God. Because, when considering God, the more the soul hopes, the more it receives »
St John of the Cross
To go furthur…
Only for today:
When I see myself particularly poor in orison or during the day, I take it as an opportunity to do an act of hope. I thank the Lord for the joy to depend on his grace.
Find the previous articles in our “Life of prayer” series.
(publication edited by brothers and sisters of the Community of the Beatitudes – © rights reserved).