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Edward F. Edinger: The psychological implications of Prayer
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I thought this would give me an opportunity to say a few words about the psychological implications of the passage that we know of as the Lord’s Prayer.

This comes from the sixth chapter of Matthew. Let me remind you of how it goes:

“Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses [or debts] as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. . . .

That prayer has been on the lips of millions and millions of individuals at the times of greatest crisis. It is laden with psychological impact. It is divided into seven “petitions.” (Jung speaks of the sixth petition as the words “lead us not into temptation.”)

When looked at psychologically you see right away that it is a formula for maintaining a connection between the ego and the Self. Let me just illustrate that briefly with each of these seven petitions.

Petition 1. “Hallowed be thy name,” or “Thy name be sacred.”

That means I must remember the transpersonal sacred dimension of life.

That is what the ego is reminding itself to remember that life is not just secular, it has a transpersonal dimension.

Petition 2. “Thy kingdom come.” The ego here is announcing that it recognizes that the rule of the Self should prevail.

Petition 3. “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Here the ego is saying, “I am going to live my life out of the same rule that you bring to your kingdom.”

Petition 4. “Give us our daily bread.” (The Vulgate says, “Give us our super-substantial bread,” which I think puts a nice angle onto it.) The idea there would be a petition or request for the inflow of nourishing images and meaning which is the psychological bread.

Petition 5. “Forgive us our trespasses,” or “our debts.” I prefer ”trespasses” (though debts is the more common translation) because it emphasizes the nature of the ego’s sin against the Self. Its characteristic sin is the inflation of identifying with the Self in other words, trespassing on the Self’s territory.

Petition 6. “Lead us not into temptation,” is the one Jung refers to, because the fact is that the Self in its de- sire for total realization, total incarnation of its opposite nature, leads one into evil as well as into good. It is quite understandable that that petition would be included.

Petition 7. “Deliver us from evil.” Protect us from disruptive dangers that you cannot help but lead us into. Edward F. Edinger, Transformation of the God Image, Pages 75-76.