Last week I finished reading Outwitting the Devil by Napoleon Hill. In case you were not aware, Hill is also the author of the famous book Think and Grow Rich which was published in 1937 and is said to have sold over 100 million copies as of 2015. Hill wrote Outwitting in 1938, but his family insisted that he keep the manuscript private because they believed that the world was not ready for it at the time.
Even though I did not agree with all of Hill’s ideas, especially his thoughts on theology, I found Outwitting to be very interesting. In the book Hill interviews, more like cross examines, the Devil. The Devil is bound by some rule which requires him to answer Hill’s questions truthfully, though he is not always fully cooperative.
After dozens of questions, Hill gets the Devil to reveal how he makes humanity miserable. In sum, the Devil gets people to “drift” through life using fear and indecision and after some time spent in what he calls “hypnotic rhythm,” i.e., habit, the victim becomes helpless and totally subject to the circumstances of the world around him which the Devil controls. Hill’s Devil claims that 98% of humanity is stuck in hypnotic rhythm and therefore paralyzed by fear and indecision.
Hill’s remedy for hypnotic rhythm? He discusses seven principles for freedom from the Devil. The first three principles, and the most important in my opinion, are:
1. Definiteness of purpose
2. Mastery over self
3. Learning from adversity
Let’s look at these three principles from a Christian perspective:
1. Submission to God’s will
2. Practicing virtue
3. Redemptive suffering
In submitting to God’s will, the Christian discovers definiteness of purpose. By practicing virtue, faith, hope, love, temperance, fortitude, humility, etc., the Christian gains mastery over self. By accepting suffering and seeking meaning in it the Christian learns from adversity. All of this brings the Christian into a closer relationship with God founded on love and trust. So how do we get there?
Over the last two weeks I’ve read several articles all about the same topic of wrestling control of one’s destiny from the cosmos through meditation, sheer willpower, good habits and such. But that’s not how we stop “drifting,” conquer fear, and avoid “hypnotic rhythm” to gain freedom. We gain freedom through PRAYER.
Prayer is communication with God. Some prayers adore Him, some petition Him, some give Him thanks, and some are a conversation – talking to God about what’s happening in your life, and, then listening to what He has to say in response. 1, 2, and 3 above are unlocked through prayer. There is no secret formula, it’s all about being attentive to the movements in our hearts, which is the Holy Spirit speaking to us. That’s what is so great about prayer. It can be very simple and the fruits gained will be exactly what we need, which may not always be exactly what we want.
Take a break from all of the self-help books and articles in 2017, make a commitment to pray, and “grow rich” in the ways that God wants you to grow rich. God bless you.