From the correspondence of Carl Jung: prayer

In Carl Jung’s correspondence he writes extensively about religion. In letters to pastors and religious who sometimes critique him about his writing on religion he clarifies that he is only commenting as a scientist, an empiricist on what is psychologically present, and so is verifiable… ‘Confessions of faith are, as we know, not the business of science….I only go as far as the psychological facts I have experienced permit me.’ And yet Jung avows the ‘immeasurable significance of the Church’ and sees the schism between the churches – Catholic and Protestant and the falling away of interest as leading to many victims. Whilst critical of the organised church Jung holds fast to his Protestant background and this he confirms many times.
It is in his letters to lay people that some of his own personal beliefs emerge. In September 1943 he wrote by hand to someone with the initials N.N. who remains anonymous. In it he replies to what must have been a query about prayer. Jung’s response is about the importance of prayer:
‘I have thought much about prayer. It – prayer – is very necessary because it makes the Beyond we conjecture and think about an immediate reality, and transposes us into the duality of the ego and the dark Other. One hears oneself speaking and can no longer deny that one has addressed “That.” The question then arises: What will become of Thee and of Me? of the transcendental Thou and the immanent I? The way of the unexpected, not-to-be-expected, opens, fearful and unavoidable, with hope of a propitious turn or a defiant “I will not perish under the will of God unless I myself will it too.” Then only, so I feel, is God’s will made perfect. Without me it is only his almighty will, a frightful fatality even in its grace, void of sight and hearing, void of knowledge for precisely that reason. I go together with it, an immensely weighty milligram without which God has made his world in vain.’
Jung seems to be able to convey the deep seriousness of the encounter with God in prayer and the necessary relationship between ‘I and Thou’. The power of God is tempered by the mutual need for relationship and for wholeness.
In another letter to the analyst Aniela Jaffe, Jung muses on the divine within: ‘The self must become as small as, and yet smaller than, the ego though it is the ocean of divinity’ and Jung quotes the German mystic Angelus Silesius (1624-77): “God is as small as me” this linking for Jung with a verse from the Upanishad: “That Person in the heart, no bigger than a thumb, burning like flame without smoke, maker of past and future, the same today and tomorrow, that is Self.”
Here the Self with or without the capital stands for the immanent God which becomes ‘the thumbling in the heart.’