I am in the second week of an adult education program here at the church on prayer. We are using the book, Beginning to Pray by Archbishop Anthony Bloom. This is a great little book and I highly recommend it if you are looking for something on prayer. It is written for the beginner and not to heavy on the theology.
During the class the topic of humility came up in reference to prayer. I have always thought of humility as being the pile that everyone heaps stuff on and you just take it. You’re the guy who sits there and never says anything and walks around with their head down never looking anyone in the eye. Well I guess that is one aspect of humility but not one that I find helpful.
Just because I like facts, the word humility appears seven times in Scripture. Mostly in the Hebrew Scriptures but is does make an appearance or two in the Christian Scriptures as well. Humility is not a virtue that is taught these days, at least using the definition that I used above.
In the first chapter of beginning to pray, Archbishop Anthony gives us another view of humility and one that I find a bit more palatable. Humility comes from the Latin word Humus ~ fertile ground. He goes on to say that this is the condition of the earth. “The earth is humble, always there, always taken for granted, never remembered, always trodden on by everyone, it’s there silent and accepting everything.” He says that this is how we should be before God. If we are abandoned, surrendered, ready to receive anything then we are ready to stand before God and accept whatever His will is. After all that is what we are going for here, God’s will not ours.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, before the crucifixion, Jesus was just this before God. Yes He knew what was coming and He knew the price He was about to pay. But in His most human moment He was naked and empty before God and finally He was ready for God’s will. He knew what He had to do, but he needed to be empty and ready.
That’s what it means to be humble before God. That is the position that we all must seek and strive for to be naked and empty, fertile soil ready to receive what ever God wants to plant in us. If we are guarded and only a little ready to do His will maybe saying things like, “okay whatever you want but with these conditions.” No, that won’t work. We must be ready and will for anything that God will throw at us.
In the end this will only happen if we have faith and fear of God. We need to shed all of our selves before Him and be genuine as we stand in the presence. We need to acknowledge that God is God and Master of All including us. Once we are that open with God then we will truly be humble and we will truly be able to obtain that perfect love. Love of God and love of neighbor.