Too many Christians believe that they please God better by a trembling submission to Him rather than a sweet and confiding liberty. In the pages of Holy Confidence – The Forgotten Path for Growing Closer to God, Father Benedict Rogacci shows us that time and time again, Our Lord insisted that we be at ease with Him. Where there is too much fear, there is no room for love.
God wants to be familiar with Him. “He is determined at all costs to gain our hearts and win our tender affection,” Father Rogacci writes. “He not only permits but ardently desires that, without forgetting the respect due to His majesty, we should use a loving familiarity with Him, as a friend with a friend, or as a son with the most indulgent father.”
Here are four practical ways to increase your confidence in God:
1. Call Him ‘Daddy’
“For you have not received the spirit of bondage again in fear, but you have received the spirit of adoption of sons, whereby we cry Abba, father,” Saint Paul writes in Romans 8:15. In the Syriac language, “Abba” doesn’t just mean “Father”. Instead, it is an endearing phrase that little children use to call their father. Tapping into this intimate connection that God wants us to confidently have with Him, we can turn to Him in prayer crying out “Daddy”.
“Not content with us simply calling Him father, He would that we should call Him so with simplicity and confidence, lie little children who can scarcely speak,” Father Rogacci writes. God wants us to communicate with Him with ease – the same way little children communicate with their parents.
2. Don’t be afraid of a friendship with God
It can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that God doesn’t want to be friends with us. We think our sinful nature could tarnish His goodness, and that we are not worthy of a friendship with someone so great. But this fear isn’t true – God desires us to converse with Him as we would a friend. “The more a Christian feels that God is great and worthy of veneration, the more he rejoices in having Him as his Friend and his Father,” Father Rogacci writes.
Saint Teresa has excellent advice to conquer this fear. “I can safely converse with Him as a friend,” she writes. “I now that He resembles not those men who we call our masters, whose power rests on exterior circumstances, and who are only great according to the estimation in which they are held. O King of Glory and Ruler of Rulers, Thy royalty rests not on such feeble foundations. Thou dost not need a brilliant court to assure us Thou art a king. The kings of earth, having no personal distinction, would not be recognized for what they are if they went forth alone without crowds of guards and courtiers. Naturally on a level with their own subjects, it is these very subjects grouped round them which form their glory.”
3. Let go of fear
We cannot love someone without being confident in them. Fear often stops us from investing in a relationship or friendship. But with God, there doesn’t have to be a fear of being hurt, rejected, or abandoned. Instead, we can have confidence in His perfect love.
“Where there is too much fear, there is no room for love,” Saint Peter Chrysologus said. Another saint who encouraged Christians to abandon fear when it comes to a relationship with God was Saint Laurence Justinian. He wrote, “God certainly prefers our love to our fear and is better pleased to see us draw near Him with joyful confidence and loving freedom than with timidity and servile submission.”
4. Rely on this daily prayer
What can we use and rely on during our journey of building confidence with God? Father Rogacci has only one resource he recommends. “Rely so little on your own strength that it will lead you to implore continually the help of God’s omnipotent grace, especially in times of temptation,” he writes. If you desire to persevere in building confidence, Father Rogacci recommends praying this prayer daily:
Lord God of my salvation, to whose favor alone we owe the happiness of serving and praising Thee worthily, illumined by Thy divine light I clearly see that I can do nothing good by my own strength, and consequently I live in a continual danger of losing Thy grace and offending Thee; and fearing this misery more than any other evil, I humbly beseech Thee by Thy great goodness, and by the blood of Thy Divine Son, never to let it happen to me.
O Father of mercies, either support me always in danger or cut short the thread of my life before temptation comes that Thou foreseest shall overcome me. I would rather lose this present life than offend Thee, who art my true life. Of all Thy gifts, my Lord, this is the most precious, and I beg for it and wait for it from Thy great goodness.
Confiding in Thy most faithful promises, I doubt not that I shall obtain it. As to the possessions of this present life, I am willing to be deprived of them. O my Divine Master, if Thou dost not help me in times of danger, on Thy judgement day, I will justly complain of Thee. I will accuse Thee of having made specious promises only to deceive me.
But why dream of impossibilities? Far be it from me not only the suspicion but the mere thought that Thou who are truth itself art capable of such unfaithfulness. I am very certain that whatever happens Thou wilt never refuse that assistance on which my salvation depends, and which will cost Thee neither pain or labor; and I give Thee thanks beforehand as for a benefit already received.
Being confident in who God is and your relationship with Him is the best way to grow closer to Him on a daily, consistent basis. This desire for confidence is deeply rooted in the Bible and the writings of the saints. Father Rogacci does an amazing job of combining these resources into this book. With Holy Confidence, you can develop an even deeper relationship with God in anticipation for the final union with Him in the world to come!