TODAY'S MESSAGE: Swedenborg's perspective on "prayer"
Open your Bible
Light a Candle
Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli
from the Bible;
9 “This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,[a]
but deliver us from the evil one.[b]’
Matthew 6:13 The Greek for temptation can also mean testing.
Matthew 6:13 Or from evil; some late manuscripts one, / for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
Arcana Coelestia (Potts) n. 2535
2535. He shall pray for thee. That this signifies that it will thus be revealed, is evident from the signification of "praying." Prayer, regarded in itself, is speech with God, and some internal view at the time of the matters of the prayer, to which there answers something like an influx into the perception or thought of the mind, so that there is a certain opening of the man's interiors toward God; but this with a difference according to the man's state, and according to the essence of the subject of the prayer. If the man prays from love and faith, and for only heavenly and spiritual things, there then comes forth in the prayer something like a revelation (which is manifested in the affection of him that prays) as to hope, consolation, or a certain inward joy. It is from this that to "pray" signifies in the internal sense to be revealed. Still more is this the case here, where praying is predicated of a prophet, by whom is meant the Lord, whose prayer was nothing else than internal speech with the Divine, and at the same time revelation. That there was revelation is evident in Luke:
It came to pass when Jesus was baptized, and prayed, that the heaven was opened (Luke 3:21).
In the same:
It came to pass that He took Peter, James, and John, and went up into the mountain to pray; and as He prayed, the fashion of His countenance was altered, and His raiment became white and glistening (Luke 9:28-29).
When He prayed, saying, Father glorify Thy name, then came there a voice from heaven: I have both glorified, and will glorify again (John 12:27-28);
where it is plain that the Lord's "praying" was speech with the Divine, and revelation at the same time.
Prayer: Talking to God
Emanuel Swedenborg did more than write about spiritual concepts; he lived a spiritual life. His life was filled with prayer, meditation, dreams, and mystical experiences.
It can be difficult to find the words to discuss one’s prayer life, but Swedenborg left us some poignant passages.
TALKING TO GOD
Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 2535
2535. Regarded in itself prayer is talking to God and at the same time some inner view of the things that are being prayed for.
So prayer is, quite simply, talking to God. True prayer comes from our attempt to bring a spiritual perspective to what we are praying for.
Arcana 2535 [Potts]
When Swedenborg wrote about prayer, he was NOT referring to our taking a “wish list” to God of things we wanted in our life. He emphasized that true prayer came from our depths.
to which there answers something like an influx into the perception or thought of the mind, so that there is a certain opening of the man's interiors toward God; … . If the man prays from love and faith, and for only heavenly and spiritual things, there then comes forth in the prayer something like a revelation (which is manifested in the affection of him that prays) as to hope, consolation, or a certain inward joy. It is from this that to "pray" signifies in the internal sense to be revealed.
When we pray from the sincerity of our heart, God responds to us with an influx which allows us to open more fully to God. God gives us a “revelation” which brings up hope and even joy.
Still more is this the case here, where praying is predicated of a prophet, by whom is meant the Lord, whose prayer was nothing else than internal speech with the Divine, and at the same time revelation.
When Jesus prayed, he was having internal dialog with God, and also revelation of his purpose and mission. There is a hint that as we ourselves move through regeneration to unity with the Lord, then we, too, can begin to develop an inner dialog with God.
Prayer is an important part of repentance. Repentance is Swedenborg’s first stage of “regeneration” or spiritual growth. This is where we need to begin to pray.
True Christian Religion n. 539 [NCE] There are two duties that we are obliged to perform after we have examined ourselves: prayer and confession. The prayer is to be a request that [the Lord] have mercy on us, give us the power to resist the evils that we have repented of, and provide us an inclination and desire to do what is good since without him we cannot do anything. [John 15:5]. The confession is to be that we see, recognize, and admit to our evils and that we are discovering that we are miserable sinners.
In this situation, prayer is acknowledging our weaknesses; it gives us understanding of our self, and a release from our guilt.
Swedenborg sometimes uses “meditation” in a negative sense:
I have talked after their death with some people who during their earthly lives had renounced the world and devoted themselves to a virtually solitary life, wanting to make time for devout meditation by withdrawing their thoughts from worldly matters. They believed that this was the way to follow the path to heaven. [H & H, 360].
This kind of meditation was living a solitary life, away the world.
Other times he uses “meditation” as a kind of union with God:
At that point I fell into a meditation based on the myths of the most Ancients, reflecting on how they pictured Aurora, the Dawn, as having Silver wings and carrying gold in her mouth.277 mentally taking great Silver wings and carrying gold in her mouth.277 mentally taking great Pleasure in these sights, I came into my spirit. TC 1, 112
PRAYER FOR OTHERS
Prayer is about helping those in need.
"When a man is in the life of charity he continually prays, not with the lips but with the heart." (A. E. 325)
"The worship of the lips without the worship of the life avails nothing" (A. C. 7884)
"Whatsoever we ask from the Lord and not from ourselves; that is, whatsoever we ask from the faith of charity or genuine love of use to the neighbor, that we receive." (A. E. 411)
THE LORD’S PRAYER
The Lord’s Prayer was especially important to Swedenborg in his own spiritual life.
Arcana Coelestia (Potts) n. 6476
6476. Whenever I have been reading the Lord's prayer, I have plainly perceived an elevation toward the Lord which was like an attraction, and at the same time my ideas were open, and from this there was effected a communication with some societies in heaven; and I noticed that there was an influx from the Lord into every detail of the prayer, thus into every idea of my thought that was from the meaning of the things in the prayer. The influx was effected with inexpressible variety, that is, not the same at one time as another; hence also it was made evident how infinite are the things contained in the prayer, and that the Lord is present in every one of them.
He wrote more about The Lord’s Prayer in his spiritual journal
Spiritual Experiences (Odhner) n. 1790
1790. [VOLUME 2, second part, containing paragraphs 1790 to 3427]
About the Lord's Prayer
When the Lord's prayer is being said, which embraces all heavenly and spiritual things within it, so much can be poured into every least detail that heaven itself is not great enough to contain it all, and this of course depending on the capacity and use of each individual.
As one penetrates more and more inwardly, the more plentiful and abundant is the content, and things that are understood in the heavens, are not grasped in the regions below, but are like secrets to them, some only comprehensible by a kind of mental faith, and some ineffable.
The more that heavenly mental images, which all come from the Lord, descend lower, or into people of a lower character, the more closed up they appear, so that finally it is as if there were something hard, in which there is little or nothing else but the literal meaning or mental images of the words.
As a result I was allowed to find out through the Lord's prayer what souls had been like in their bodily life in regard to religious doctrine, while they were allowed their meaning as it was prayed. 1748, 1 April.
A mental image therefore grows, going from bodily elements upwards and inwards, and in fact to an incalculable extent at each level, thus in the inward regions by countless numbers multiplied together; and again in the very inward regions, then likewise in the innermost.
Here are some thoughts from Rev. Judith on prayer:
Examine, seek, ask, give thanks, these are the things of prayer. Just as meditation is listening to God, Prayer is asking of God. In all things we need to do what Matthew 6:33 says, " SEEK YE FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD............." If we are not guided by God's will for us we are going against what is good and true. We must see with our minds; believe in our hearts what we pray for is possible and of God's will; and leave the results up to God.
"Dear Lord, who dwells within our hearts, keep us focused on love and charity when we pray. Keep us in our hearts in union with you, so that whenever we pray we are doing your will for us. Keep us away from our own selfish and earthly wants when we pray, and out of our will for us and others. We do not know what is good for us and what is good for others when we are out of focus of your will. Help us to pray for our church, our nation, and all your people. Thank you for the Blessings and Love you bestow upon us daily, we are nothing without you." AMEN.
What is your prayer life like? Let’s share with each other this week.