THE LORD'S PRAYER
An Esoteric Study
Today I should like to indicate the extent to which religious systems
reveal, in specific instances, their hidden spiritual-scientific foundations.
It is a small but important aspect of the occult scientific basis of religions
that I wish to discuss. Even the simplest people in contemporary society
recognize this hidden background of religions as a spiritual fact involving
the deepest truths. Seeking these truths brings to light how wisdom-filled
and fraught with mystery are the ties binding together the spiritual life of
Think of Christian prayer. You all know what it is. It has often been spoken
of, and anthroposophists have often reflected upon its relation to the
spiritual-scientific world view. This spiritual-scientific world
conception has brought to members of the anthroposophic movement another
method of elevating the human being the human soul to contact
with the divine, spiritual, cosmic forces. This method is meditation, by
which a person experiences the spiritual content within himself, and receives
something of what is given by the great guiding spirits of humanity or by
the spiritual content of great civilizations in which the human being
immerses himself and so identifies himself with the divine spiritual
currents in the world.
Meditating in even the simplest way upon one of the formulas pronounced by
the spiritual leaders of mankind, admitting to the mind a formula that
embodies a great thought not every thought is suitable, as you know,
but only one handed down for this purpose by the guiding spirits of humanity
and letting such a formula really live in the heart and experience,
brings a person to union with the higher spirituality. A higher power, in
which he lives, streams through him, and patient perseverance to the point
of letting this flow of power strengthen him enough morally and
intellectually, brings him to the moment when the content of his meditation
can awaken the deeper forces latent in the human soul. This kind of
meditation may reach any of a number of stages, from the smallest gain in
moral strength to the highest attainments of clairvoyance. But time,
patience and energy are needed to bring most people to the higher degrees
of clairvoyance by this means.
Meditation is usually thought of as an oriental approach to the divine. In
the Occident, especially in Christian communities, prayer has taken its
place. It is by prayer that the Christian customarily approaches the
Divine, and through it he seeks entry to the higher worlds.
It should be noted by the way that what passes for prayer today would by
no means have been considered such in early Christian times, least of all
by the Founder of Christianity, Christ Jesus Himself. For if it were to
happen that someone were really to gain the gratification of his personal
wishes by prayer or entreaty, he would soon entirely disregard the
all-embracing effect that the granting of the prayer should bring. He would
assume that the Deity granted his wishes rather than those of others.
One peasant might pray for sunshine for a particular crop; another for rain
for another crop. What would Divine Providence then do?
Or suppose two opposing armies are facing each other, with each side
praying for victory and supposing its cause alone to be just. Such an
instance makes immediately obvious how little universality and sense of
brotherhood attach to prayers arising out of personal wishes, and the
granting of such prayers by God can satisfy only one group of supplicants.
People so praying disregard the prayer in which Christ Jesus set forth the
fundamental attitude of mind that should prevail in all prayer: Father,
let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be
done. This is the Christian attitude of prayer.
Whatever the object of the prayer, this fundamental temper of mind must
echo readily as an undertone in the soul of the petitioner for his prayer to
be given in a Christian manner. When this is the character of his plea, the
form of his prayer will be but a means of rising to higher spiritual realms