O presence and pow’r within us. Mystical Lord's Prayer

© By Paul Alan Laughlin

Professor in the Department of Religion and Philosophy,

Otterbein College, Westville, OH

The first and perhaps most important thing that sets this version of the Lord's Prayer off from the others is its theology, which dispenses entirely with the personal, parental Father-Sky-God of the original, and replaces "Him" with a non-personal, immanent power-presence (or sourceforce), an infinite one (or One) that is none other (or non-Other) than the spiritual core of the person or persons reciting or singing the prayer.  The implicit theology of this prayer, then, is not monotheism but monism…

The second distinctive feature of this version of the Lord's Prayer follows from the first; for having eliminated a personal divine Other above, this Lord's Prayer… has no petitions for any intercessory acts on behalf of a human individual or group.  In their stead are strong affirmations of how we are already emboldened from within ourselves to become better persons and to accomplish ever-greater things.  This "Lord's Prayer," then, can properly be regarded as a daily reminder of our full human potential-miraculous and praiseworthy in its own right-to be good and do good. 

Thus my Lord's Prayer is not an invocative device, but an evocative exercise in self-realization-or perhaps Self-realization, if the ego-self is to be distinguished from one's deepest and truest identity, as it is in most mystical traditions.  For humanists, this "within" may be seen differently: as our rational and empirical faculties, perhaps after the fashion of Plato, who equated the human "soul" (psyche) with the intellect.  In either case, what we have here is an acknowledgement of a mysterious and in some sense divine Immanence (versus Eminence) - a reference to the indwelling mysterious Presence and Power that (at least for mystics) permeates or infuses the cosmos, and that (for humanists as well, though probably sans the capitals) abides in nature, human nature, and therefore ourselves.

(Reprinted from The FourthR, Vol 22, No. 6. Nov-Dec 2009

O presence and pow’r within us,

Being and Life of all.

How we are filled, how we o’erflow

with infinite love and gladness!

We shall this day sow grace and peace,

and show mercy to all,

and gentle loving-kindness.

And we shall be not so self-serving,

but a constant source of giving.

For ours is the essence,

and the wholeness,

and the fullness forever.