“Fear is an index of our possessiveness—the more self-possessed we feel, the more fearful we become. But if I no longer possess myself, but have given myself wholeheartedly to God, then I am both fearless and free.” (James Houston. The Transforming Power of Prayer. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1996, p. 158.)
Fear is an indicator light on the panel of my life. My fear level shows me the degree to which I am clinging to my own life rather than freely offering it to God’s gracious reign. Self-abandonment to God enables me to experience fearlessness and freedom.
How do I pray this? “Father, may Your Spirit enable me to loosen my white-knuckle grip on the reins of my life. Teach me to live in the fearless freedom of Your loving leadership. May I learn at deeper levels the reality that my life comes to me as a gift. It is not mine as a possession, but as a trust—a stewardship. You have bought my life at a great price.
“Father, I remember again that my life is Yours. Direct me. Reorder my priorities. Enable me to recognize more and more that I am Yours and You are mine…and that this is my best good. Free me from my suffocating selfishness that constricts who You’ve made me to be.
“If we take prayer seriously and begin to identify ourselves with the life of Jesus, then we must expect that a large part of our life will be lived incognito.” (p. 161.)
Prayer is much more likely to move me into a place of hiddenness than of prominence. Paul says that my true life is hidden with Christ in God. I believe that it is this humble, unassuming reality of the inner life that hits at the heart of our contemporary resistance to moving deeper in our conversational relationship with God. Our normal mode of operation, as a rule, is to promote ourselves and our own interests. Any path that looks to me to end in a demotion of myself seems utterly foolish and profoundly unproductive. A life of deepening prayer will increase my awareness that my eternal life is truly hidden in Christ.
Hidden in what way? Hidden from whom? True life is hidden from the advertisers’ barren promises. The latest, hottest technology or product does little to energize my soul. It is hidden, I believe, from the latest headlines. The greatest accomplishments of the kingdom of heaven aren’t likely to make front-page news. True life is hidden from the power brokers and money hoarders of this world. It isn’t likely to receive much attention from the systems of cultural reward and recognition that so many seem to strive after.
“Father, free me from those cultural pressures that would urge me to sacrifice a life of prayer for a superficially fashionable life or an inordinately popular life. May I make peace with the reality of a life that is largely lived incognito. May I not long for the empty fame of a known name. May I not hunger and thirst for recognition by others, but rather hunger and thirst for righteousness…for the pleasure and freedom of being right in Your eyes and according to Your ways. Just as Jesus lived most of his life in obscurity, free me to do the same as You will, Father.”