The Perspective of Prayer

For you, O Lord God, have spoken, and with your blessing shall the house of your servant be blessed forever. –2Samuel 7:29

Dear members and friends and the Swedenborgian Church,

Being thankful was very easy when I was living with my grandparents who were farmers. There were no more than fifty adults and ten children in that small farming village and as far as I remember, no one was affiliated with any religious institution. But, at the same time, no one would deny that Heaven exists or that there is a Divinity in control of all things in the world and beyond. This practice definitely could have been created by wishful thinking and a desire to stay positive while living with the overwhelming and often cruel reality of the uncontrollable natural forces. Yet, to me there was more than just wishful thinking. There was a deep acknowledgment of connectedness between nature, humans, and Heaven, or the power behind it all. The foundational belief shared by all farmers in the village was that if they were good people before the eyes of Heaven, Heaven would bless them with proper weather. Somehow, they seemed to believe that the condition of their mindset was closely related to the condition of their environment. Thus, whenever they had a good weather throughout the year, there was a big celebration of thankfulness to Heaven at the end of the rice harvest.

In a city like San Francisco, most of us work for somebody and the result of our work is deposited into our bank account in a digital form of credit. Then, we use our credit system to acquire the necessities of life and to pay for our cost of living. The conditions that would enhance our work or enrich the result of our work is clearly not managed by an invisible power like Heaven or God. So, should we still thank God for food, drink, security, and quality of our life? Or should we say, “as long as I have money, I can buy all those things!”

Being prayerful and thankful, even in ancient times, might not result in quantitative blessings to human lives, but instead qualitative blessings which have great impact on one’s mindset. One thing that I am finding to be true over and over again is that all things can be taught, with the exception of how you process all things. Another way of saying this is that no matter how much you accomplish or possess, if your own mind refuses to be satisfied, you will have no satisfaction. No matter how strong your desire or motivation for something may be, if there is no way to fulfill your desire or knowledge of where your desire comes from, it can never be satisfied. Consequently, your life could be consumed by running after one big accomplishment after another. Being prayerful and thankful is very helpful to our mind to bring a whole perspective and appreciation of what we have at the present moment.

Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee