A recurring theme in Scripture is, “Be not afraid” or “Fear not.” Yet, fear is often a powerful driving force in our lives. Fear can often be traced to one or more of the desires the Litany of Humility asks deliverance from. If any given desire does not have dominion over us, the fear of not meeting that desire will fade as well.
For example, consider my own experience mentioned earlier of being picked last to be on a team. When my desire of being preferred was not satisfied, I felt humiliated. The fear of humiliation and the desire of being preferred dovetail together. If I am delivered of the desire, I am delivered of the fear and vice versa. If I have no fear of being humiliated, I won’t have the desire of being one of the early picks for the team. If I’m unconcerned about when I am chosen, I’ll have no fear of any humiliation by being picked last.
The fears mentioned in the litany, like the desires, place a focus on self interest. Self preservation is human nature. What the prayer seeks is a spirituality that transcends the natural human tendencies. We are not simply animals motivated by natural drives and instincts. We are both material and spiritual, a trait not shared by the animals (material beings) or the angels (spiritual beings). We are created to bridge the gap between the natural and the spiritual (and will continue as such in the resurrection). We are unique. Therefore, it is not asking too much of us to seek a spiritual holiness that transcends mere natural drive and instinct. In other words, we are designed to confront our natural fears with spiritual solutions. This also means we can seek and find the ability to regard others over and above self rather than life being “all about me.”
Rather than address each fear in the prayer one-by-one, suffice it to say that fear is an obstacle to humility. Fear prevents us from truly knowing God and placing complete trust in Christ. Some fear is good and healthy, like the kind of fear that prevents one from stepping in front of a moving bus. However, much of our fear gets in the way of knowing God and knowing each other as God would have us. Our fear prevents true humility and godly love.
So, what fears are keeping me from true humility? Deliver me from the fears, Jesus. You who intimately knows both our material and our spiritual being, deliver us.