The Lord’s Prayer
Uses of Prayer
Matthew 6:5-15. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be just as the hypocrites; for they love to pray standing in the synagogues, and in the corners of the streets, so that they may appear to men. Amen, I say to you that they have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy bedroom, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father who is in secret, and thy Father who looks in secret shall repay thee in what is manifest.
And when you pray, do not speak on and on1, just as the gentiles, for they think that they shall be heard by their many words. Therefore, do not be like them; for your Father knows what things you need before you ask Him.
In this way, therefore, you should pray: Our Father, who art in the heavens, hallowed be Thy name....
AC 2535. Prayer, regarded in itself, is speech with God, and at that time some internal view of the matters of the prayer. To this prayer, there answers something like an influx into the perception or thought of the mind, so that there is a certain opening of man’s interiors toward God. But this takes place with a difference according to man’s state, and according to the essence of the subject of the prayer. If man prays from love and faith, and for only heavenly and spiritual things, then there comes forth in the prayer something like a revelation, which is manifested in the affection of him who is praying as to hope, consolation, or a certain inward joy.
AR 376. ...It is common in all Divine worship that man should first will, desire, and pray, and the Lord then answer, inform, and do; otherwise man does not receive anything Divine.... We frequently read in the Word that the Lord answers when they call and cry.... Also, that He gives when they ask.... But yet the Lord gives them to ask, and what to ask. Therefore, the Lord knows it beforehand. But still the Lord wills that man should ask first, to the end that he may do the asking as from himself, and thus that it should be appropriated to him. Otherwise, if the petition itself were not from the Lord, it would not be said in certain passages that “they should receive whatever they asked for.”
AE 815:10. ...He who is in faith from the Lord asks for nothing but what contributes to the Lord’s kingdom, and to himself for salvation. Other things he does not wish for, saying in his heart, “Why should I ask for what does not contribute to this use?” Therefore, if he were to ask for anything except what it is granted him from the Lord to ask, he would have... no faith from the Lord. It is impossible for angels of heaven to want and so to ask for anything else, and if they were to do so, they could have no faith that they would receive it.
AC 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. From this it was also made evident how infinite are the things contained in the Prayer, and that the Lord is present in every one of them.
1Greek βαττολογησητε (“babbling or stammering”); see Hebrew bata’ 0981
Questions and Comments
- Have you ever found yourself or someone else praying over and over, as if the Lord would hear you if you kept on asking, even though you know that’s not true?
- How does this fit with the Lord’s parable about the friend coming at midnight and persistently asking till he got what he needed? This parable comes immediately after the Lord’s Prayer in Luke 11:5-8. The Lord also told a parable about a widow who kept demanding justice from a corrupt judge till he avenged her, just to get her off his case (Luke 18:1-8). “He spoke [this] parable to them, that men ought always to pray and not lose heart.”
- What does it mean, to pray only for heavenly and spiritual things (AC 2535)? Can we pray for earthly needs for heavenly and spiritual purposes, such as the Lord’s kingdom and our salvation (AE 815:10)?
- Have you ever noticed a feeling of being elevated toward the Lord during or after the Prayer, or a feeling of hope, consolation, or inward joy?