I would like to take some time to write about the psychological wisdom of a prayer -“The Lord’s Prayer”- that has guided the lives of millions of Catholic people around the world. My objective is to offer (like Edward Edinger did; see his book, “Transformation of the God-Image”) a brief psychological distillation (intra-psychic perspective) of that prayer.
First, here is the prayer:
“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,
as we forgive those who trespass against us,
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.”
From a psychological point of view, the relationship between our ego and the unconscious is important for our psychological well-being, especially the relationship between our consciousness and the center of the unconscious, which Analytical Psychology (Jung) calls the Self or the God Image in us. According to Jung, God is in each of us and that He/She is the center of the unconscious, which contains not only all the undiscovered and unknown potentials, talents, and abilities in each human life but, also, the dark aspects of human nature.
“Our Father who are in Heaven”
Then, what does the first sentence – “Our Father who are in Heaven” – mean psychologically?
It may mean that, inside of each of us, there is a place (Heaven) where all the undiscovered and unknown potentials, skills, talents, abilities as well as the dark aspects are located, and that the Creator of Life -God (Father)- as well as the fundamental impulse to create is there, too.
“Hallowed be Thy name”
What does this sentence mean psychologically?
The Self -God in us- is sacred. The prayer is asking people to declare the Self sacred and to view the inner center of our lives -the Self- as holy and whole. Given that the Self or God in us is dynamic center from where all psychological life begins -wishes, desires, thoughts, unknown potentials, undiscovered talents, and untapped skills- the second sentence of prayer is asking us to view and hold our psychological lives as sacred and divine. In a world where, unfortunately, outer reality seems to be the most important aspect of a human life, redeeming the “inner life and its center” as sacred seeks to restore the great psychological value of inner life.