Commentary

 

Learning to Pray      

By Rev. Kurt Horigan Asplundh

The Word is full of prayers to express our heartfelt states. They have a special power to open heaven and give us strength against evils and falsities.

"The Word in its literal sense, or the natural, is in it fullness, and also in its power; and by means of it man is in conjunction with the heavens" (The Word 15)

This power becomes effective when the Word is read or recited reverently by people on earth (Divine Providence 256, Apocalypse Explained 1066[4]).

Through prayers from the Word the Lord literally can "give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways" (Psalm 91:11).

Here are some examples from the Word, of prayers for personal strength:

"Direct my steps by Your word,
And let no iniquity have dominion over me,
Redeem me from the oppression of man,
That I may keep Your precepts.
Make Your face shine upon Your servant,
And teach me Your statutes." (Psalm 119:133-135)

"Lord, help me stop worrying anxiously about tomorrow, and give me strength to face the troubles of this day." (Adapted from Matthew 6:3-4)

"I am a little child O Lord, I do not know how to go out or come in.... Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil." (1 Kings 3:7, 9)

Of course, there are many more. Here are just a few more references that you can look up:

Prayers for troubled states: Psalm 4:1, Psalm 7:1, Psalm 42:1, Psalm 86:6-7.

Prayers for mercy and forgiveness: 2 Samuel 24:10, Psalm 25:7, 11, Psalm 130:1-5, Luke 18:13.

Prayers of personal commitment: Mark 12:30, Psalm 37:5.

Prayers of comfort: Psalm 90:1-2.

In so many instances, these prayers have great spiritual power and beauty - not just because of their natural language, but also because, when we read them, we open our minds to the Lord's influx. He says,

"Behold, I stand at the door, and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." (Revelation 3:20)

When we pray, we are hearing His voice, and opening the door.

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For you, Lord, are with me; Your rod and your staff, they comfort me." (Psalm 23:4)

From Swedenborg's Works

 

De Verbo (The Word) #15

De Verbo (Chadwick translation)      

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15. XV. The lost ancient Word.

It was reported to me by angels of the third heaven that the ancients had a Word written entirely by means of correspondences like our Word, but that it has been lost. I was told that this Word is still preserved among them, and is used by the ancients in that heaven who had that Word when they were in the world. The ancients among whom that Word is still in use in the heavens were in part from the land of Canaan and the neighbouring region, and also from some kingdoms of Asia, for instance, from Syria, Mesopotamia, Arabia, Chaldaea and Assyria, from Egypt, Sidon and Tyre. The inhabitants of all these kingdoms had a representative form of worship, and so knew about correspondences. This knowledge was the basis of the wisdom of that time, since it enabled them to communicate with the heavens, to have inner perception, and in many cases to speak with spirits. But because this Word was full of correspondences of a kind which only remotely meant heavenly things, so that as time passed it began to be falsified by many people, the Lord's Divine Providence ensured its gradual disappearance, and another Word was given, which was written by means of less distant correspondences. This was delivered to the Children of Israel by the Prophets. This Word, however, kept the names of places in the land of Canaan and the surrounding parts of Asia with similar meanings. It was for this reason that the descendants of Abraham from Jacob were brought into the land of Canaan, and the Word which names these places was written there.

(References: Daniel 8:1; Matthew 7:1-2, Matthew 23:7-10; Revelation 12:1, 13:1)


[2] A further proof of the existence among the ancients of such a Word is found in the writings of Moses, who mentions it by name; and a passage was taken from it found in Numbers 21:14, 27. The historical parts of that Word were called 'The Wars of Jehovah' and the prophetic part 'The Utterances'. Moses took the following quotation from the historical parts of that Word:

Therefore it is said in the book of the Wars of Jehovah, Vaheb in Suphah and the streams of Arnon, and the water-channel of streams which dropped down to where Ar lived and stopped at the boundary of Moab. Numbers 21:14-15.

By the Wars of Jehovah are to be understood and described the Lord's battles with the hells and His victories over them, when He should come into the world. The same battles are also to be understood and described in the historical parts of our Word, as in Joshua's wars with the peoples of the land of Canaan, in the wars of the Book of Judges, and in those of David and the other kings.

(References: Daniel 7:1; Matthew 24:1; Numbers 21:14-27; Revelation 6:1; Zechariah 1:18-21, 4:1)


[3] The following passage was taken by Moses from the prophetical parts of that Word:

Therefore the Prophetic Utterances say, Enter into Heshbon, the city of Sihon will be built and strengthened. For fire has gone out from Heshbon, a flame from the city of Sihon, which devoured Ar of Moab, the possessors of the heights of Arnon. Woe betide you, Moab; you are ruined, people of Chemosh. He made his sons fugitives and his daughters captives of the Sihon king of the Amorites. We killed them with arrows, Heshbon has perished as far as Dibon; and we laid them waste as far as Nophah, even as far as Medeba. Numbers 21:27-30.

These prophetic passages are called Utterances, and not Proverbs or the Composers of Proverbs, as the translators have it. This may be established from the meaning of the Hebrew word meshalim. A further proof that they are not just proverbs, but also prophetic utterances may be drawn from Numbers 23:7, 18; 24:3, 15, where it is said that Balaam gave forth his utterance, which was a prophecy, also concerning the Lord. His utterance is there called mashal in the singular. (The things in them described by Moses too are prophecies, not proverbs.) 1

[4] This Word was Divine or divinely inspired in the same way, as is evident in Jeremiah, where almost the same words are repeated, namely:

A fire went out from Heshbon, a flame from among Sihon, which devoured the corner of Moab, and the top of the sons of tumult. Woe betide you, Moab; the people of Chemosh has been ruined, for your sons are snatched away into captivity, and your daughters into captivity. Jeremiah 48:45-6.

In addition to these a prophetic book of that ancient Word called the Book of Jashar or the Book of the Upright Man is quoted by David (2 Samuel 1:18) and by Joshua (10:13). This plainly shows that the story of the sun and the moon there was a prophecy from that book. Moreover I was told that the first seven chapters of Genesis are so clearly to be seen in that same Word, that there is not so much as a little word missing.

(References: Jeremiah 48:45-46; Matthew 19:5-6)


[5] The religious beliefs of many peoples were drawn and transcribed from that Word, passing for instance from the land of Canaan and various parts of Asia to Greece, and thence to Italy; and by way of Ethiopia and Egypt to some African kingdoms. But in Greece they made up myths by means of correspondences, and turned the attributes of God into as many deities; they called the greatest of them Jove after Jehovah. 2

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Footnotes:

1. These words are added in the margin. -Translator

2. This is not strictly true; neither Latin Jupiter (genitive Jovis) nor the corresponding Greek name Zeus have anything to do with the Hebrew Yahweh or Jehovah. -Translator

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Doctrine of the Sacred Scripture 102, 103, 117

True Christian Religion 265, 275, 279


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Thanks to the Swedenborg Society for the permission to use this translation.


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