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

 

Divine Providence #256

Divine Providence (Dole translation)      

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256. 3. Strict materialists justify their rejection of divine providence when they see that Christianity is restricted to that smaller part of the inhabited world that we call Europe, and even there is divided. The reason Christianity is found only in that smaller part of the habitable world called Europe is that it is not suited to the character of people of the Middle East the way Islam is, Islam being a kind of compound religion, as already noted [255]. Any religion that is not suitable is not accepted. For example, a religion that prohibits marrying more than one wife will not be accepted but rejected by people who have been polygamists for centuries; and the same principle applies to other practices mandated by Christianity.

[2] It does not matter whether a larger or a smaller part of the world accepts a religion as long as there are people who have the Word, since there is still light from them to people who are outside the church and do not have the Word. This has been explained in Teachings for the New Jerusalem on Sacred Scripture 104-113. Strange as it may seem, wherever the Word is read reverently and the Lord is worshiped because of the Word, the Lord is present along with heaven. This is because the Lord is the Word, and the Word is that divine truth that makes heaven what it is. This is why the Lord says, "Wherever two or three are gathered in my name, I am there in their midst" (Matthew 18:20). This can be done with the Word by Europeans, then, in many places in the habitable world, because Europeans are in business all around the world and are either reading the Word or teaching from it everywhere. It may seem as though I am making this up, but it is true.

[3] The reason Christianity is divided is that it is based on the Word, and the Word is composed entirely of correspondential imagery. For the most part, these images are semblances of truth that contain hidden genuine truth. Since the church must necessarily derive its teaching from the literal meaning of the Word, and that meaning is of this nature, it is inevitable that there should be quarrels and arguments and dissent in the church especially about the interpretation of the Word, though not about the Word itself or the divine nature of the Lord himself. It is universally believed that the Word is holy and that the Lord is divine, and these two beliefs are essential features of the church. This means that people who deny the Lord's divine nature, the ones called Socinians, are excommunicated by the church, while people who deny the holiness of the Word are not even considered Christians.

I may add at this point something striking about the Word, something that points to the conclusion that inwardly the Word is divine truth itself, and that at its very heart it is the Lord.

[4] When spirits open the Word and rub it against their face or clothing, then simply from this touch their faces or clothing glow as brightly as the moon or a star. Everyone they meet can see this. This is a witness to the fact that nothing in the world is more holy than the Word.

On the Word being composed entirely of correspondential imagery, see Teachings for the New Jerusalem on Sacred Scripture 5-26; on the need to draw and corroborate the teaching of the church from the literal meaning of the Word, see Teachings for the New Jerusalem on Sacred Scripture 50-61 of that work; on the fact that it is possible to get heresies from the literal meaning of the Word but harmful to validate them, see Teachings for the New Jerusalem on Sacred Scripture 91-97; and on the church being derived from the Word, with its quality determined by its understanding of the Word, see Teachings for the New Jerusalem on Sacred Scripture 76-79.

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Inbound References:

Apocalypse Revealed 602

True Christian Religion 479


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


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