Scientific discovery of Spiritual Laws given in Rational Scientific Revelations

Theistic Psychology: 
The Scientific Knowledge of God
Extracted from the Correspondential Sense
of Sacred Scripture


by Leon James
Professor of Psychology
University of Hawaii
Published on the Web in 2004
Last update: 2006

For Permissions Note and Conditions of Use see Volume 18

The Topical Index to Sections and Reading List is in Volume 18

This is Volume 14

Prayers as Revelation From God 

(version 46b)

                               14.1  Talking to God
                               14.2  Asking for Things
                               14.3  Ritual Prayers

The Topical Index to Sections and Reading List is in Volume 18

14.0  From Swedenborg's Arcana Coelestia:

He shall pray for thee. That this signifies that it will thus be revealed, is evident from the signification of "praying." Prayer, regarded in itself, is speech with God, and some internal view at the time of the matters of the prayer, to which there answers something like an influx into the perception or thought of the mind, so that there is a certain opening of the man's interiors toward God; but this with a difference according to the man's state, and according to the essence of the subject of the prayer. If the man prays from love and faith, and for only heavenly and spiritual things, there then comes forth in the prayer something like a revelation (which is manifested in the affection of him that prays) as to hope, consolation, or a certain inward joy. It is from this that to "pray" signifies in the internal sense to be revealed. Still more is this the case here, where praying is predicated of a prophet, by whom is meant the Divine-Human, whose prayer was nothing else than internal speech with the Divine, and at the same time revelation. That there was revelation is evident in Luke:

It came to pass when Jesus was baptized, and prayed, that the heaven was opened (Luke 3:21).

In the same:

It came to pass that He took Peter, James, and John, and went up into the mountain to pray; and as He prayed, the fashion of His countenance was altered, and His raiment became white and glistening (Luke 9:28-29).

In John:

When He prayed, saying, Father glorify Thy name, then came there a voice from heaven: I have both glorified, and will glorify again (John 12:27-28);

where it is plain that the Divine-Human's "praying" was speech with the Divine, and revelation at the same time. (AC 2535)



14.1   Talking to God


Here is an instance of a prayer composed from the perspective of rational faith (see Section xx).


O ALMIGHTY and merciful father, who have been pleased to manifest Thyself to Your sinful creatures, as a man, by assuming a hu­mility here below, and afterwards glorifying it, or making it one with Thyself, for the purpose of giving Your creatures continual access to You, we desire to praise and glorify Your holy name for this Your gracious condescension, and most adorable manifestation of Thyself. We implore at the same time the aid of Your holy spirit, to open our eyes to a right and edifying view of the wondrous works, which You were pleased to perform, during Your sojournings here below, for the benefit and instruction of Your church. Enable us thus to see that all the mi­racles worked by You on the bodies of men, for the removal of bodily disease and infirmity, were striking representative figures of the infi­nitely more important miracles which You are ever disposed to work in our souls or spirits. And may this consideration lead us ever to apply to You in Your glorified humanity, for Thy divine and healing virtue, under every pressure of our manifold spiritual infirmities and disor­ders. Be You our restorer from blindness to sight; from our natural deafness to the faculty of hearing; from our natural dumbness to the faculty of speaking; from the leprosy of pollut­ed and perverted affections, to purity and recti­tude; from the palsy of obstructed spiritual life, to its free circulation; from the death and grave of our natural evils and errors, to resurrection-life and ascension-glory, through the communica­tion of Your most adorable love and wisdom! May we thus be taught humbly and gratefully to acknowledge Thee, not only as our best friend, but as our most skilful physician, and not only as the primary cause and source of original life, but as the divine repairer of all its breaches, as our redeemer from sin, and as the divine parent of new and heavenly life in us!

Enable us thus to see and to perceive, that of Yours infinite love and mercy You are ever dis­posed to perform the same works at this day in every individual mind, which You were pleased to perform in Your church, in the days of Your divine ministration here below, by instructing, healing, feeding, strengthening, purifying it, and finally, by raising it from the death of sin to an eternal conjunction with You in the love and the life of righteousness. And may this considera­tion lead us ever to attend to Your divine pre­sence and operation, and not only so, but also to co-operate with You in all Your mighty works , from a full conviction that such co-operation can alone qualify us either to discern Your works, or to be made sensible of the inestimable bless­ings involved in them. Thus may we humbly hope to become of the happy number of those of whom You have been pleased to declare, He that believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also, and greater works than these shall he do, because I go to the Father: And thus too being successively taught, and led, and healed, and nourished, and raised from the dead by Your mercy and omnipotence, we will give You thanks for ever, and will show forth Your praise from generation to generation. Amen. (Rev. John Clowes. On the Web at )



14.2   Asking for Things

Two chess players sit face to face thinking about the next move, and about winning. They each pray to God that He would give them victory. An hour later they stand up shaking hands. One of them is the winner, the other is the loser. What happened to God?

One way to think about it is that God favored one person over the other. Or, the one who won was more religious and pious, or perhaps more deserving. Or, God has His own plans and we don't know why God chose this way. Or, God had nothing to do with it--the player who made the best moves, won. What do you think? How do you explain the fact that both players asked God for a win, and one of them got it. Was this God's choice?

From the scientific perspective of theistic psychology this event is no different from any other event. There is a French saying I recall from my childhood, which in English would be: "Man proposes. Woman disposes. God imposes." For many years I did not quite understand what it means that the "woman disposes," and I did not much think about the statement that "God imposes." We can propose to God that He should give us victory in a contest, but God decides what to do on the basis of what's best for both players. God "imposes" His will by definition, since God is omnipotent, which means that no other will can trump God's will. Nor can we rationally say that God is swayed by an individual's begging, no matter how earnest and how passionate and faithful. By definition God cannot be swayed by someone's argument or wish, no matter who the person is. Remember that you could not have the desire to pray to God unless you are online with God and download that wish or motive. Neither can you have the idea of praying, nor the idea of winning, unless you were receiving it right then and there from God. Neither can you raise your finger or move an eye without God giving you that power, instant by instant. You see? How can God be swayed by your prayer or by your request?

This scientific perspective on praying or asking things from God makes sense only at level 3 thinking (see Section xx). I know these things I'm writing about here and yet when I have dentist appointment I start feeling anxious about it several days prior to it. When I'm sitting in the dentist chair I speak to the Divine-Human, thinking, I know Divine-Human that you are with me. I know that you are controlling the dentist's hands and eyes and instruments. You put him here for me. all the years of training he had to do, and his loves--whether he wants to be an excellent dentist or whether his attention wanders and makes mistakes. Now suddenly as his instrument is in my mouth and as the dental assistant's suction tube is in my mouth, and as I'm lying there helpless, motionless, unable to get up, I'm beginning to feel an irresistible urge to move, to sit up. But I will myself not to move, not to interrupt the proceedings. Divine-Human help me. And the panic washes over me. I'm in it. It's claustrophobia. It's irrational. It's mad. Sweat pores over my forehead. I clear my throat. I jerk my one of my legs. The dentist says, Are you OK? I nod and murmur um hm. The panic seems to be over. I can breathe more freely. But it can come back without warning.

When I analyze my panic in the dentist chair, or other medical situations where I have to stay still in closed spaces, I see that it is a temptation arranged for me by the Divine-Human, as fully explained in the scientific sense of Sacred Scripture (see Section xx). When I say to God in the midst of the panic,  Help me Divine-Human, am I thinking that I need to ask God to help otherwise He wouldn't? I don't think so. I'm asking for His help because it's an automatic reaction to my distress. Even though I know that God isn't influenced by my asking, I'm still moved to ask in the face of my distress and unhappiness. In the same way, the opposing teams in a soccer match ask for victory because this is a way they relate to God and honor Him. This is a way of acknowledging God's co-Presence and active participation in the events around us. It makes us more rational since this is the actual reality.


14.3  Ritual Prayers

Yom Kippur. The Prayers of the People. Prayer beads.

            14.4  Morphic Resonance and Prayer -- Rupert Sheldrake

From an article available at:

Prayer: A Challenge for Science by Rupert Sheldrake

The whole thrust of my morphic resonance theory is to say there is more to nature than just the standard forces in physics. And what’s more these other agents are at the very heart of the way things are organized in chemistry, in life, and in consciousness. (...)

The key to understanding prayer as a scientific phenomenon requires, in my view, getting away from the idea of the mind as somehow inside the brain. If we think our minds are confined to our brains–the standard view–then since what goes on in our brain occurs in the privacy and isolation of our own skull it can’t affect anyone else. However, I see minds being field-like in nature (part of my general view of morphic fields), and I see mental fields as the basis for habitual patterns of thought. Mental fields go beyond, through, and interface with the electromagnetic patterns in the brain. In this way mental fields can affect our bodies through our brains. However, they are much more extensive than our brains, reaching out to great distances in some cases.

As soon as we have the idea that the mind can be extended through these mental fields, and over large distances, we have a medium of connection through which the power of prayer could work. We are no longer dealing with a purely mechanical system in the brain, with absolutely no way of connecting the brain and the observed effect–for if that were the case the phenomenon of effective prayer would have to be dismissed as delusion or coincidence. With a mental field, however, we have a medium for a whole series of connections between us and the people, animals and places we know and care about–with the rest of the world, in fact. When we pray, those extended mental fields would be the context in which prayer could work non-locally.

Non-Localized Mind

Clearly, this does not amount to a fully articulated scientific theory of prayer; it is highly speculative. But, I believe, it is also very clear that we need to have a much broader view of how the mind is extended beyond the brain. We need a theory of what I call the "extended mind" as opposed to the conventional scientific view of the "contracted mind" holed up inside the skull. This view of a contracted mind came from Descartes in the seventeenth century. It is a model of consciousness which separates our minds from the whole world around us into a small region in the brain–a model of the mind which plainly contradicts direct experience. For example, when you see this page in front of you, you experience it as being outside you, not inside your brain. To say that this and all your other perceptions are located in your brain is a theory, not an experience. (...)

My idea of morphic fields is that even though they are extended and non-local in their effects, they are still part of our individual and collective mind, but not to be equated with some ultimate Universal Mind. The morphic fields are not God. They are non-local in the sense that they can spread out over immense distances (as, for instance, gravitational fields do), so that if I were praying about somebody in Australia from my home in London the morphic field would carry the information and the prayer could work. But my mental field wouldn’t usually spread out to Mars, for example, because there is nothing connecting me to someone on that planet. If someone I knew had traveled there on a spaceship, then there would be a link. For morphic fields to have a mental connection I believe there has to be something that links you to the other person. Even if you have never met the other person, I believe just knowing their name or something about them seems to be enough to establish a connection, though this connection is likely to be weaker than that between people who know each other well. (...)

Opening Up To The Numinous

As a scientist I wasn’t always interested in prayer. In fact, in earlier days I believed it was all nonsense. I was an atheist; God had no room in my scientific education. After graduating from Cambridge, I thought I had outgrown childish belief structures like religion, and that rational science was the way forward. I had a typical secular-humanist non-theistic worldview for a long time, well into my thirties. And this, of course, is the worldview that most of my scientific colleagues still have. They regard religion as a relic from a superstitious age. In that context, prayer is completely meaningless, except insofar as people believe in it they may derive some psychological benefit–a kind of "placebo effect". (...)

How Do Mental Fields Work?

My hypothesis of morphic resonance and morphic fields has grown out of the notion in developmental biology of "morphogenic fields". This idea dates back to the 1920s in the work of biologists A. Gurwitsch and Paul Weiss. In modern developmental biology these fields are usually regarded as heuristic devices, or as mathematical abstractions with no causal effect. By contrast, I interpret them to be causal fields with an inherent memory given by morphic resonance; in other words I regard them as one kind of morphic field. Other kinds of morphic fields include behavioral fields, responsible for coordinating instinctive or learned behavior, mental fields, responsible for organizing mental activity, and social fields, responsible for organizing social groups.

If fields are the medium of mind then what you have in the brain is an interface between one kind of field and another kind of field. All organization in the body has morphic fields underlying it. Morphic fields in the brain interact with electromagnetic (EM) fields in the brain. However, the nature of this interaction is indirect. Rather than morphic fields working directly through the electromagnetic field, they interact through both affecting the same thing–in this case, physical activity within the brain.

I am not saying that there is a linear-type causal relationship between brain-electromagnetic-morphic fields. I regard mental fields as one kind of morphic field that affects the brain, shaping its activity, and this affects the EM field associated with the brain.

Here you’ve got fields acting on fields: morphic fields surrounding all the cells, tissues and organs of the body, as well as in molecules and cell membranes, and indeed in quantum-matter fields. This is contrasted with the more usual view of the spirit-matter dichotomy–where mechanical matter and ineffable spirit interact in some kind of quasi-miraculous way. If you say that the spirit acts on the EM field, you’ve got a problem of miraculous intervention.

On the other hand, if everything in nature is organized by fields, and if mental fields are a more subtle kind of field, you’ve got no sharp dichotomy–you’ve got fields acting through fields at all levels of reality. So the mind-body problem ceases to be a sharp dichotomy.





The Writings of Swedenborg are available on the Web in a searchable format at:  

A definitive and well respected biography of Swedenborg is:

Sigstedt, Cyriel (1952) The Swedenborg Epic. The Life and Works of Emanuel Swedenborg (New York: Bookman Associates, 1952) Available online:

The Reading List identifies basic collateral works on the Writings by Swedenborg scholars.

The Topical Index to Sections and Reading List is in Volume 18

This is the End of Volume 14

Source pages

Authors: Leon James &  Diane Nahl Webmaster: I.J. Thompson