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Come To the Lord With A Humble Heart

Mairead Murphy
Mairead Murphy, Young Adults Ministry
October 21, 2022

In this Sunday’s Gospel reading, Jesus emphasizes humility — the importance to pray in humility and have humility with each other. When I initially read this Gospel reading, I immediately recalled memories of other Catholics who I felt were self-righteous and judging my prayer life. I felt very insecure and inadequate because I didn’t pray like them. Then, I paused and wondered how often I judge others. We all do it and Jesus is making us check ourselves this week. Like the Pharisee, when have we said, “Thank God I’m not like those Catholics or those people?” Everyone’s faith journey and experience in the Church is different. We can’t judge them because their prayer rituals and devotions are different from our own. It’s unrealistic to think that everyone prays the same way.

When it comes to humility in prayer, I always think I approach it with a humble heart. Don’t we all? After sitting with the image of the tax collector, a man who may have been in deep distress or anguish, I also wondered when have I come to the Lord and just offered it up or surrendered. For me, it wasn’t hard to think back to the beginning of the pandemic when I was living and working in the L’Arche community in Seattle. I felt very isolated and anxious and one type of prayer that my community enjoyed was body movement prayer. It was something universal even for our Deaf members. My fellow assistants often did it during our Zoom team meetings, because we were carrying so much and couldn’t fully express and process all that we were feeling. This Sunday’s psalm reminds me of those times: “…the Lord is close to the brokenhearted; and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.”

I carried this practice into Lent of 2021. Originally, I wanted to journal every day and open my Bible more frequently, but quickly failed at that. Every entry was the same because I was still holding so much pandemic grief. I was struggling with my ADHD so much so that I couldn’t focus on reading a passage or listening to an audio reflection. Eventually, I turned to body movement prayer where I would do four yoga-like poses in a cycle while listening to instrumental music or a mantra in a different language. Even though life felt very slow and isolated, it was important for me to show up in prayer even if I felt like I had nothing new to say to God. I could at least offer the Lord my struggles and use these body postures to clear my mind to wait and listen to Him. A line from Sirach says, “The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds,” and that is what it felt like. Over time, I realized that this really worked for me and I started to incorporate a psalm or Gospel passage before I started my movements. It became more contemplative over the coming months and I explained it to others in the community that I felt like a glow stick that had been cracked open and I was radiating light. I felt very alive in the Holy Spirit.

Throughout this pandemic, many of us have learned what our mental and emotional needs are, but is it time for another spiritual check in with ourselves? What do we need at this point in 2022 to authentically and humbly show up in prayer? If you have ADHD, or other types of neurodiversity, what does your brain and sensory system need for you to show up in prayer? Maybe praying in neurotypical ways isn’t always effective. This is a reminder for everyone to not box ourselves into one or two types of prayer when we are constantly cycling through different seasons of this pandemic. It’s important to always be incorporating our whole selves into prayer and not judge others if their approach is different from ours. As we spend time in prayer this week, let us ask the Lord to show us when we have been self-righteous so we may humble ourselves; and may we continue to humbly approach the Lord with our whole hearts.