The Lord’s Prayer
Why should we ask the Lord to deliver us from evil?
Psalm 140:2. Set me free, O Jehovah, from the evil man; From the man of violence preserve me.
DP 297. The evil cannot be wholly led by the Lord away from evil and into good so long as they believe their own intelligence to be everything, and the Divine providence nothing. The appearance is that man has the ability to withdraw himself from evil, provided he thinks this or that to be contrary to the common good, contrary to what is useful, and contrary to the law of the nation and of nations. This an evil man can do as well as a good man, provided he is such by birth or by practice as to be able inwardly in himself to think clearly, analytically and rationally.
Nevertheless he is not able to withdraw himself from evil. And the reason for this is that while the Lord gives to every man, the good and the evil alike, the capacity to understand and perceive things, even abstractly, as has been shown above throughout. Yet man from that capacity is not able to deliver himself from evil, because evil belongs to the will, and the understanding flows into the will only as with light, enlightening and teaching. And if the heat of the will, that is, man’s life’s love, is glowing with a lust of evil, it is frigid in affection for good. And in consequence, he does not receive [that light], but either rejects or extinguishes it, or by some contrived falsity turns it into evil....
But this can be seen more fully in the following order: (1) One’s own intelligence, when the will is in evil, sees nothing but falsity, and has no desire or ability to see anything else. (2) If one’s own intelligence then sees truth it either turns itself away or it falsifies the truth. (3) The Divine providence continually causes man to see truth, and also gives an affection for perceiving it and for receiving it. (4) By this means man is withdrawn from evil, not by himself, but by the Lord.
AC 8179.2. As to there being no need of intercession, the case is this. They who are in temptations are wont to slack their hands and betake themselves solely to prayers, which they then ardently pour forth, not knowing that prayers will not avail, but that they must fight against the falsities and evils which are being injected by the hells. This fight is performed by means of the truths of faith, which help because they confirm goods and truths against falsities and evils. Moreover in the combats of temptations, the man ought to fight as of himself, but yet acknowledge and believe that it is of the Lord (see above n. 8176). If man does not fight as of himself, the good and truth which flow in through heaven from the Lord are not appropriated to him; but when he fights as of himself, and still believes that it is of the Lord, then they are appropriated to him. From this he has an own [proprium] that is new, which is called the heavenly own, and which is a new will.
AC 8179:3. Moreover they who are in temptations, and not in some other active life than that of prayers, do not know that if the temptations were interrupted before they had been fully carried through, they would not be prepared for heaven, and thus could not be saved. For this reason, moreover, the prayers of those who are in temptations are but little heard; for the Lord wills the end, which is the salvation of the man, which end He knows, but not the man; and the Lord does not heed prayers that are contrary to the end, which is salvation. He who conquers in temptations is also confirmed in the truth stated above; whereas he who does not conquer entertains a doubt with respect to the Divine aid and power, because he is not heard; and then sometimes, because he slacks his hand, he partly yields. From all this it can be seen what is meant by there being no need of intercession, namely, that prayer is not to be relied upon. For in prayer from the Divine it is always thought and believed that the Lord alone knows whether it is profitable or not; and therefore the suppliant submits the hearing to the Lord, and immediately afterward prays that the Lord’s will, and not his own, may be done, according to the Lord’s words in His own most grievous temptation at Gethsemane (Matt. 26:39, 42, 44).
Questions and Comments
- How does the Lord withdraw man from evil according to DP 297?
- What is the role of prayer in being delivered from evil?
- How do we fight against evils as if from ourselves while still knowing the Lord is actually doing the fighting for us?
- What does it mean when it says in AC 8179.3 that “the prayers of those who are in temptations are but little heard”?
- What kind of prayer is particularly important in the midst of temptations as indicated in the end of AC 8179.3?