Praying for humility is one of the most difficult aspects of the spiritual life, but also the most necessary.
Humility can be a scary virtue to pray for. It means that we will be humiliated at some point, with our pride cut down from under us. While it may not be a public event or even noticeable by anyone, our own heart will suffer the loss of our pride and we will understand how much we rely on God.
Yet, even though it is a difficult intention, praying for humility is a necessity. If we truly want to become saints, and enter the Kingdom of Heaven, we must imitate as closely as we can the life of Jesus. He humbled himself greatly, allowing himself to be crucified by his creation. It is truly a profound mystery to meditate on and reminds us of the love that God has for us.
St. Therese of Lisieux, a Carmelite nun of the 19th century, understood this reality and prayed on a regular basis for humility. It was not easy for her either, but she wanted to become a saint and knew that the road to it was marked with humility. She composed the following prayer, which can become part of our own daily prayers, acknowledging the beauty and majesty of God and our own small role in the world.
O Jesus! When You were a Pilgrim on earth, You said: “Learn of Me for I am gentle and humble of heart and you will find rest for your souls.” O Mighty Monarch of Heaven, yes, my souls finds rest in seeing You, clothed in the form and nature of a slave, humbling Yourself to wash the feet of Your apostles. I recall Your words that teach me how to practice humility: “I have given you an example so that you may do what I have done. The disciple is not greater than the Master … If you understand this, happy are you if you put them into practice.” Lord, I do understand these words that came from Your gentle and humble heart and I want to practice them with the help of Your grace.
I beg You, my Divine Jesus, to send me a humiliation whenever I try to set myself above others. I know, O my God, that You humble the proud soul but to the one who humbles one’s self You give an eternity of glory. So I want to put myself in the last rank and to share Your humiliations so as “to have a share with You” in the kingdom of Heaven. But, You know my weakness, Lord. Every morning I make a resolution to practice humility and in the evening I recognize that I have committed again many faults of pride. At this I am tempted to become discouraged but I know that discouragement is also pride. Therefore, O my God, I want to base my hope in You alone. Since You can do everything, deign to bring to birth in my soul the virtue I desire. To obtain this grace of Your infinite mercy I will very often repeat: “O Jesus, gentle and humble of heart, make my heart like Yours!”