Eric Butterworth Speaks: Essays on Abundant Living #19
Delivered by Eric Butterworth on May 18, 1975
I have often been asked of my interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer, and have always gladly related this as it has been very valuable in my life. Few people who use the prayer have really examined its meaning, so the insights given us by modern Biblical scholarship and translation can be very helpful.
In the words that preceded the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus said, “Use not vain repetitions for your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things even before ye ask Him.” This makes it clear that prayer is not something we do to God, but something we do in ourselves to let that which God has already done be expressed in and come to fruition through us. The purpose of prayer is to seek oneness with God, not to make Him one with us. Prayer that does not change this consciousness of oneness is not prayer at all, even though we may say the Lord’s Prayer a thousand times. I don’t think Jesus intended to compose a prayer to end all prayers but rather suggested a pattern with which to begin our prayers. He was telling us how to pray, not what to pray; He was giving a series of dynamic truths to illustrate the consciousness in which to pray—a sort of frame of reference.
It is helpful to go through the prayer as we have learned it, and note the metaphysical depth behind it as well.
“Our Father...” This is the true point of beginning. This declares our unity with God at the outset, which is man’s greatest need. We begin the prayer on this note, not trying to get God’s attention, but directing our attention to that in us which neither slumbers or sleeps, that which loves us with an everlasting love.
“...who art in heaven...” Remember that Jesus said, “Neither shall they say, ‘Lo here or there’, for the Kingdom of God is within you.” We all have within us every moment of our lives the great potency of God; we have simply ignored it and shut our ears and eyes to its possibilities. Psychologists tell us of repressed emotions. Well, our good can be, and often is, repressed. This frustration of potential is at the root of mental, physical and emotional problems. Certainly, no religion can put good into a person—the purpose of religion is to provide a proper climate for the encouragement and development of techniques to stir up and release the gift of God that is within.
“...hallowed be thy name...” “Hallowed” is derived from the same Anglo-Saxon word that has given us “holy”, “heal”, and “whole”; it implies the wholeness and omnipresence of God. The same fountain cannot spout both sweet and bitter water, and God cannot send sickness and trouble for they are unlike His nature: whole.
“Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth as it is in Heaven.” Each man is a perfect idea in the infinite mind of God. The plan is imbued with a ceaseless urge toward fulfillment; this is God’s will—the ceaseless longing to express Himself and perfect Himself in His creation. The decree is: Let that perfect idea which I am in spirit unfold in me and through me. Let the divine will lead me into an outer manifestation of that which I am within.
“Give us this day our daily bread.” This is not asking God for supply, which would be like the fish asking the ocean for water. It is simply an affirmation that God is substance; it is claiming our inheritance. Though man alone in creation is a reasoning and free individual, he is sometimes sick, ill-adjusted, and typically wants what he doesn’t really need. With all his freedom, he hasn’t claimed his inheritance. The statement is: “Thou dost give us the substance for this day.”
“Forgive us our debts as we have forgiven our debtors.” This indicates the working of the cosmic law of cause and effect: give and receive, forgive and be forgiven. God doesn’t need to forgive by any special act, for He is love. God cannot forgive, actually, because there can be nothing but love in God. In love is the power of washing away any transgression, so through love man can forgive and render evil into good. We are often bound by inner conflicts which are pools of unforgiveness and we need healing. Release, and you are released; love, and you are loved. Love your enemies, not because they deserve your love but because you require the continuity of that flow of love. When you are expressing less than love, you are cutting off the flow of the dynamic energy of life. Push the love button and the divine action moves in to cleanse and release.
“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” This is a misleading and totally erroneous translation of the original words. God would never lead man into temptation. Light cannot lead you into darkness. This is simply affirming that the urge for expression of our potential is so great that it will never leave us comfortless in trial, it will never abandon us in confusion or in temptation, and it will indeed always be the very power of help and healing and deliverance. The more accurate translation is: “Thou dost not abandon us in trial, for thou art our preservation in confusion.” The prayer is telling us that God will not fail or forsake us, because there is a spirit in man and the Almighty “giveth him understanding.”
“For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” This was actually not in the original prayer; it has been added for liturgical purposes. It is a suitable closing in that it encourages humility in suggesting that God is our power to acheive and our glory in accomplishment. The final “Amen” doesn’t mean, “I hope it will be”, but rather, “So it is—complete, finished, final, now.”
Many have requested that a new version of the Lord’s Prayer be formulated, but we will probably continue to use it in its present form. However, I suggest that you use the prayer in context with a set of ideals which you may find helpful and interesting as a metaphysical commentary. Some have used the following expanded version.
Our Father who art in Heaven: I am now conscious of the infinite and eternal presence in whom I love and by which I think and create.
Hallowed be thy name: This presence in me is whole and complete. It is the activity of health that heals, of intelligence that inspires, of substance that prospers, and of love that harmonizes.
Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, in earth as it is in Heaven: I am God’s glorious possibility and I now let His perfect idea of me unfold in me and through me. My desire for betterment is God’s desire to perfect that which He is expressing as me and I intend to let Him have His way, seeing myself as doing that which He sees me as being.
Give us this day our daily bread: I have no existence outside of God’s presence, for I am that presence, expressing as me. Therefore I can never be separated from the all-sufficient substance of the opulent universe. I claim my divine inheritance and I daily, perpetually, manifest abundant supply.
Forgive us our debts as we have forgiven our debtors: The presence in me is my potential for dissolving all conflicts of transgression. The presence is love, and it loves in me and through me as love; it forgives in me and through me as I forgive; it releases me as I loosen and let go of all my limited thoughts about myself and others.
Leave us not in temptation but deliver us from evil: The presence in me is my light and my deliverance. There is no darkness in the light and there can be no darkness in me when I am established in spiritual unity with the presence within which is better than light and safer than the known way.
For thine is the kingdom and the power and glory forever. Amen: In all that I seek to be or do or have, I humbly recognize that in the presence is my own power to think, my very aspirations, my will to commence, my strength to keep on, my power to achieve, and the glory of my accomplishment. This is the truth, it is now done. So be it.
© 1975, by Eric Butterworth