“Who I am” is such a complex thing! There’s who I think I am, and who others think I am, and who I think they think I am, and who I would like them to think I am.
I’m told it’s important to have a good self-image. It feels good when others think good things of me, and especially bad when they think bad things of me. It’s so easy to do or say things so that people will think those good things of me, or even to support my own image (or illusion) of who I am.
And then there is who I really am, which is inevitably different to all of these. It doesn’t matter how convincingly I look like a good person: God sees though it all and sees who I really am. That’s both an “Oh no! I’m naked!” moment, and enormously liberating: He loves me as I really am; He accepts me as I really am. And Jesus did everything necessary to make me acceptable: I don’t need to strive to become someone who is acceptable.
It’s not that praying in public is bad (Jesus often did it) but if the audience for my prayer is anyone but God, I need to take myself away from that audience, and from pretending to be someone I’m not.
It’s not that a good reputation is bad (for example, Proverbs 22:1 says “Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold.”), but it’s better to pray in secret than to pray to feed my reputation.
Father, its infinitely better that I’m honest with you; that you are my focus; to be in your place of freedom. Please remove every distraction; and deflate every illusion that would take me anywhere but to you.
Written by David Cornell