“Blessed are the poor in spirit” (Matthew 5:3). We embrace that spiritual poverty in our prayer.
There are times we want to pray, but we find in ourselves nothing at all that we can give to God. We feel empty, barren. In a word, we feel poor. And that is what we can offer God in prayer.
The desire to pray is itself the first movement of prayer. The heart of the poor in spirit remains set on one valued possession: an expectant awaiting for God.
The poor are those who don’t place the hopes of their lives in determined things that they have chosen. The foundation of poverty is in the certainty that God fulfills what he makes you desire (L. Giussani).
Being poor before the Lord with nothing but our longing is a way of being pure. As Dominican Fr. Gerald Vann reflected, “To be poor in spirit is to have a childlike trust in providence, and so to be freed from fear. If you are poor in spirit you learn not to care, in the sense of not endlessly fretting and worrying, even about your own state of soul.”
“Without poverty, there is no holiness possible” (G. Bernanos). Prayer as the expression of poverty is profoundly conveyed in the famous Prayer of the Paratrooper of Lieutenant André Zirnheld (+1942):
I don’t ask you for wealth,
nor for success, nor even health perhaps.
That sort of thing you get asked for so much.
Give me, Lord, what you have left over,
give me what no one wants from you.
I want insecurity, strife,
And I want You to give me these
Once and for all.
So that I can be sure of having them always.
But give me courage too,
And strength and faith;
For You alone can give
what one cannot demand from oneself.
Follow Fr. Cameron’s series on prayer here.