How the Devil promoted prayer

One day, the Devil, who was known for his craftiness, was thinking up new ways to block God’s efforts towards human salvation. He wanted to come up with a sure-fire strategy that no one would ever suspect.

The Devil felt most threatened by God’s interjecting suffering into the lives of human beings.

Why?

He knew what men and women on earth didn’t know—that God permitted suffering so that people would turn their attention to that which was beyond mere worldly concerns and seek a heavenly life. (After all, one’s spiritual destiny involved an eternal reality rather than a finite terrestrial existence spanning a mere handful of decades.)

Also, human beings consider themselves to be evolving rather than being in a “fallen” or atrophied state. The Devil knew that this put God behind the “eight ball” because alerting humans to their self-delusion would be met with intense aversion and rebellion by all worshippers. But the Devil still wanted more guarantees.

It was just then that the Devil came up with a brilliant scheme to keep human eyes off the ball. He decided to promote a special kind of prayer!

He invented an insidious new way for people to pray. He would sneak into the hearts and minds of the human race and steer them into praying for God to remove all kinds of worldly suffering.

The result was that people started to pray only for things that would give them personal comfort and relief. Like praying for the health and welfare of loved ones (as if God needed prodding) rather than for their spiritual welfare. Or, to pray to God to make their favorite sports team win the championship. Even praying for the earliest and biggest tomatoes on the block to grow from their garden.

The Devil knew that this kind of prayer would not only put the kibosh on people approaching their personal pain and sufferings as an opportunity for real spiritual growth, but would even make people blame God if their flawed prayers went unanswered.

The Devil was pleased with this “double whammy.” He knew that rather than being tested, people would choose comfort and would continue to pray for the world to be as they would like it. This kind of prayer was in total opposition to the way that Jesus taught the world to pray—that “Thy will be done” (not “my” will be done).

The Devil broke out into great laughter because he well understood that humankind would not accept God’s non-terrestrial conditions for true happiness, preferring that physical life on earth should always be a paradise and utopia. People want to trust their own prudence rather than trust in God’s providence. Because of this, the Devil was delighted to give them what they want—misdirected hope!

http://www.provinggod.com

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About thegodguy

EDWARD F. SYLVIA, M.T.S. Philosopher/Theologian Edward F. Sylvia attended the School of Visual Arts in New York and received his Master of Theological Studies at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA and a Certificate of Swedenborgian Studies from the Swedenborgian House of Studies. He is a member of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (C.T.N.S.) and the Swedenborg Scientific Association (S.S.A.). Award-winning author of "Sermon From the Compost Pile: Seven Steps Toward Creating An Inner Garden" and "Proving God," which fulfills a continuing vision that God’s fingerprints of love can be found everywhere in the manifest universe. His most recent book, "Swedenborg & Gurdjieff: The Missing Links" is an edgy collection of anti-intuitive essays for personal transformation that challenges and inspires. He has been a student of the ideas of both Emanuel Swedenborg and George I. Gurdjieff for over thirty years. Read more about TheGodGuy, his books and his ideas at http://www.staircasepress.com
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22 Responses to How the Devil promoted prayer

  1. oddlyirish says:

    “God permitted suffering so that people would turn their attention to that which was beyond mere worldly concerns and seek a heavenly life . . .” REALLY? This strikes me as one of those statements which sound nice until you examine them more closely. Suffering, of course, is a broad category, incorporating forms psychological, spiritual and physical and degrees from modest to excruciating. I expect that most who’ve experienced real suffering might agree that their attention at such times was pretty well focused on the immediate cause of their suffering – and how to make it stop – rather than the more “lofty” concerns to which you allude. It’s a nice attempt at a theodicy, but fails on its face.

    • thegodguy says:

      Dear oddiyirish,

      You did not identify whether you were an atheist or worshipper. So I do not know where you are coming from. But you have to admit that “lofty” concerns are rare within human daily life. Suffering should help loosen the physical world’s grip on us. God’s justice moves inwards.

      Spiritually yours,
      TheGodGuy

  2. domenic says:

    Sometimes the enemy counsels to say an immense multitude of prayers out of custom. His object in this is to render the task burdensome and tiresome, so that they shall be void of devotion, and without unction; or again that, by considering the number of prayers said, the person may be lifted up with pride. Sometimes, too, he does it to hinder the person from works which would be more profitable, or which are more necessary. Or again, he thus tempts the soul to fancy that by the frequency of her prayers she can oblige God by right to accomplish what she covets. Good Post.

    • thegodguy says:

      Dear domenic,

      Thank you. Few people grasp the idea that we can pray for the wrong reasons. You have good internal perception!

      Spiritually yours,
      TheGodGuy

  3. Cortland Bell says:

    Wow! If you recall I told you that I am in the midst of studying Arcana Coelestia (finishing up volume seven) I have also read and in some cases studied TCR, DP, HH, DLW and Four Doctrines over the past twenty years. That being said, I am going to post what you have written above on my FB wall and make a diligent effort to try and get some of my friends and family to read it and at least appreciate its value in regard to spiritual evolution/reformation/regeneration. It is very difficult to get anyone to “see” what The Lord has put forth within the writings of Swedenborg and as a matter of fact I leave that to the Lord. I believe that the way you tend to articulate certain things can be a tremendous asset for those who are not able to accept Divine Truth from the teachings of Swedenborg. PS. I am going to order your book right now as the Lord through Swedenborg tells us that it is important to find confirmation for spiritual truth outside of the Word.

    • thegodguy says:

      Dear Cortland,

      Thank you for your support. Remember that Holy Scripture warns us not to put “new wine in old wineskins.” I have challenged myself to create “new wineskins” with my approach to writing about the Lord’s new dispensation!

      Spiritually yours,
      TheGodGuy

  4. Domenic says:

    when we do pray, instead of praying for a lighter load, we should be praying for stronger shoulders, really enjoyed this post.

    • thegodguy says:

      Yep! We should pray that God completes His highest plans for us – which has nothing to do with seeking comfort, but rather, in helping us make new effort. As in everything – “No pain, no gain.”

      Spiritually yours,
      TheGodGuy

  5. mark lang says:

    I do agree it’s the Father will that we should do> it’s called the way to the cross. What we do for others we do to Jesus. But I’m a little unsure that God gives suffering to us to make us good in the image of Jesus. Rather it’s the sin that causes the pain. people just want to hold on to sin because it feels so good. That’s were the Devil tricks us. many times I wonder why I felt that God let me down when I prayed and things in my life was good with God. Should I question God plan or wonder what is best for me> no > Sometimes prayer can be selfish from the person praying. You will find that the saints will pray for others but not their ownself. They will even see suffering in a new light> For when we suffer we suffer with Jesus like the theif >As we move closer to God nothing is what it should be? In this new age of sinners they will tear down Jesus to show that He was not from God. Right before your eyes it’s happening now. All demand a sign but no sign will be given> but you will see a sign from the antichist. Everything that Jeus said is true! but the devil on the other hand with make you see it as false. Only those in the Holy spirit will see what it is ?we are tested but I never heard of God doing the pain part on someone to make him change> no God is not the God of pain! another lie from the Devil>the devil felt no pain in hurting Job>The attack was directed towards God. The devil is always trying to show that God made a mistake when He made man in his image. why does your God make you suffer so?? we come into this world in pain because of sin and leave it when we go out. The devil wants you to go you own way and forget about all this so call pain stuff from God? when it comes from him. Also the devil wants you to think that sin doesn’t hurt God in any way?It hurts him so much than all the suffering in the world. No one likes to suffer> even Jesus said “take this cup from me” but your will be done. bye mark

    • thegodguy says:

      Dear Mark,

      Pain serves to inform us that something is wrong. You can’t fix what you are unaware of.

      Spiritually yours,
      TheGodGuy

      • mark lang says:

        I had to think about your reply because suffering and pain is something that is a long debated subject from the beginning to the present age. many have follow away from God to avoid pain and yet we are told that to avoid the suffering and pains of hell we must love and do God’s will. There is something that is mystic about suffering and pain that goes beyong earthly knowledge to wonderful to explain. My point is not to prove you wrong but to give insight on God’s love. It’s true some feel pain because their pride gets in the way of God’s love. They worry, despair, and think the worst always about themselves or others. It’s called human nature.There is also other suffering and pain that the world gives to us. It’s not wrong to tell God your needs and wants. child like and simple. It’s the devil who makes it hard with reason and logic in human terms. I guess I need to cried and feel sorry for me before God hears me? Do some crazy thing to please God to get what i want. Most the time it’s as simple as having faith and trust in God in which I must say that I have fallen short many times in my life. So close are we that God wants us to call Him Father. It is written in the bible ” if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. suffering and pain could be a gift in the eyes of a saint. I guess it’s true that love endures all things. The devil wanted to see if God would save Jesus on the cross but his plans back firer on him. Surely the devil knew who Jesus was? The devil knew that He was God. Bye Mark

  6. thegodguy says:

    Dear Mark,

    Everyone likes to point to God’s Love while not mentioning the need for us to properly respond. Love is reciprocal. God wants a relationship with us – otherwise Divine Love is just a one-way street. I am glad that you have given this topic extra thought (which is why I wrote the silly story above).

    Spiritually yours,
    TheGodGuy

  7. Scott Stone says:

    First let me say, I am a believer and I enjoyed the story very much. I had a conversation just this morning about God’s role in our suffering and was told (for the hundredth time) that “God won’t put more on you than you can bear”. I then asked, “What scripture do you base that on?” To which she responded, “I don’t know but it’s in the bible”. I assume she was referring to 1 Corinthians 10:13 (KJV)…
    There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
    The word “temptation” is sometimes replaced with the word “trial” in other versions of the bible. Regardless of this (temptation or trial), it doesn’t say that God “put” anything on us, just that we will suffer what is “common to man”. Isn’t the point that we will suffer (as is common to man) but that through prayer and devotion to God, that we will overcome the temptation to turn away from God and therefore our faith in him grows stronger? I’m really trying to understand the TRUE meaning of this scripture and I greatly appreciate any feedback…
    Thanks!
    Scott

    • thegodguy says:

      Dear Scott,

      Pain and suffering comes in many forms – it can be physical or spiritual (conscience). The point of my “silly” story is that the Devil (evil influences) would want humans to pray that God removes their suffering so that no spiritual response will be made to the “trial.” In that way, spiritual salvation would flap its wings in frustration.

      Yes, generally speaking, God spares us from suffering beyond our ability. However, Since the Lord told His disciples that there was more to communicate about the coming heavenly kingdom but that they “could not yet bear these things” indicates that a special and more intense suffering still awaits us all. For instance, what if Revelation and Armageddon refers to a person’s inner struggles in combating evil inclinations? That possibility and reality would indeed be difficult to bear – the notion that we ourselves will be challenged by the Lord’s final approach! But that is where the great battle for our souls takes place – the “inner turf” of our hearts and minds!

      Spiritually yours,
      TheGodGuy

  8. Scott Stone says:

    Thank you for the reply but I’m struggling with “Yes, generally speaking, God spares us from
    suffering beyond our ability”. What scriptural foundation is there for that position? I assure
    you, I’m not trying to be argumentative, I’m just confused…:)

    Thank you.

    • thegodguy says:

      Dear Scott,

      Technically, there is no extant scriptural foundation (that I know of) for the notion that God spares us from suffering beyond our ability. According to Emanuel Swedenborg (and I am Swedenborgian) Corinthians is not a part of the Lord God’s Holy Word – It is exclusively a manmade document and chosen by mere mortal men to be a part of the Bible narrative.

      However, if The Lord God made us suffer beyond our ability (and cause failure) that would seem unjust and serve no practical purpose towards our salvation. Other than that, I do not know what you are struggling to understand. The important point is that we put the limits on what we can bear. Angels are angels because they can bear the truth more than we can.

      Spiritually yours,
      TheGodGuy

      • oddlyirish says:

        I believe it’s in Ecclesiones 42:53:Hut-hut-hut wherein the Lord sayeth, “Behold, I shall delivereth unto thee much travail and sebaceous cysts upon thy noggin, but thereupon thou shalt neither weep nor rend thy garments but instead buck up and face the music, for verily if thou canst not bear the heat removeth thyself from the kitchen and cease thy whining.”

  9. thegodguy says:

    Dear oddlyirish,

    Thank you for your contribution to this conversation. The verse is exactly where you say it is! Good detective work!

    Spiritually yours,
    TheGodGuy

  10. Scott Stone says:

    As I stated, I was struggling with your comment about God sparing us from suffering beyond our ability because it seems contradictory to the story. The notion that God does in fact spare us from “suffering beyond our ability” is the bait Satan uses in the “prayer trap”… The hope that God can, might or will spare us is often what distracts us from praying for spiritual growth…

    As for Emanuel Swedenborg, I’m sorry to say – I’ve never heard of him before today. However, I’m very intrigued and I will make it a point to learn more!

    God bless!
    Scott

    • thegodguy says:

      Huh? The statement was not mine. You asked me to respond to the statement of another person that you talked to earlier. I did.

      As for Swedenborg, I wholly encourage you to read his work. Warning: He wrote dozens of books on scientific and theological topics. My second book “Proving God” shows how his thinking allowed for science and theology to be lawfully unified!

      Spiritually yours,
      TheGodGuy

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