~Have Thy Own Way, Lord~

A Night-time Prayer,
Interrupted By God


My Dear Father in heaven........

     Yes?

Don't interrupt me..... I'm saying my prayers.....

     But you called My name.

Called you? I didn't call you! I'm just saying my prayers. Where was I? Oh, yes.... My Dear Father in heaven......

     There, you did it again.

Did what?

     Called my name. You said "My dear Father in Heaven". Here I am. What's on your mind?

I didn't mean anything by that; I was just....you know, saying my prayers for the night. I always say my prayers--- it makes me feel good. Kind of like getting my duty done.

     Your duty? All right. Go ahead.

I'm thankful for my many blessings.....

      Hold on a minute there. How thankful are you?

What???

      How thankful are you for your many blessings?

I'm ... well .... I don't know. How should I know? It's just part of the prayer. Everyone always said I should express my thanks.

      Oh. Well, you're welcome. Go ahead.

Go ahead?

      Yes. Go ahead with the prayer.

Okay....let's see.... Bless the poor and the sick and the needy and the afflicted.....

      Do you really mean that?

Well, sure I really mean it.

      What are you doing about it?

Who, me? What do you mean what am I doing? Nothing, I guess. I just think it would be nice if you got control of things down here, like you have up there, so people don't to have suffer so much.....

      Have I got control of you?

Well, I go to church.... I pay my tithes....

      That isn't what I asked you. I asked if I have control of you?

Well, sure.... I guess so....

      What about your temper? You have a real problem there, and your friends and family suffer from it. And then there's the way you spend your money so selfishly. And how about the kinds of books you read?

Stop picking on me! I'm just as good as some of those others I see in church every Sunday.

      Excuse me. I thought you were praying for me to bless the needy. If that is going to happen, I'll have to have help from those who are praying for it, like you.

Look, Father.... I need to finish up here. This is taking a lot longer than usual. Bless the missionaries to be led to the doors of the honest in heart....

      You mean someone like Ralph?

Ralph? Ralph who?

      Ralph---The guy around the corner.

Oh, that Ralph. But he smokes and drinks and never goes to church.

      Have you looked into his heart lately?

Of course not! How can I look into his heart?

      I can. His is one of those honest hearts you were just praying about.

Okay, well, then.... get the missionaries over there.

      Aren't YOU supposed to be a missionary? I thought I had made that pretty clear.

Hey, wait a minute! What is this, anyway? Criticize me day? Here I am, just trying to do my duty. And then all of the sudden you break in and start reminding me of all my faults.

      Well, you called me. And here I am. But go on, keep praying. I really like this next part. You haven't changed the order around, have you? Go ahead.

No, I don't want to.

      Why not?

Because I know what you'll say.

      Try me and see.

Okay, okay already! Please forgive me of all my sins, and help me to forgive others.

     What about Bill?

See, I knew you'd bring him up. Listen, Lord: he told all kinds of lies about me, and got me fired! All my co-workers think I'm a creep, and I didn't do anything! I'm going to get even with him!

      But what about your prayer? Didn't you just ask me to help you forgive others?

I didn't mean it!

      Well, at least you're being honest. I guess you just enjoy carrying that load of bitterness around, don't you?

No, I don't. But I'll feel better as soon as I get even with him.

     No, you won't. You'll feel worse. Listen to me: You forgive Bill, and I will forgive you.

But Lord, I can't forgive Bill!

      Then I can't forgive you.

No matter what?

      No matter what. But go on, you aren't finished with your prayer yet.

Oh, all right! Please help me control my feelings, and not give in to temptation....

      Good, good. I'll do all that. But you have to stop putting yourself in all those places where you can be tempted.

What do you mean by that?

      Quit hanging around the magazine racks and spending so much time in front of the tube! Some of that stuff is going to get you sooner or later. You'll find yourself in a mess before too long.... And don't use me for an escape hatch, either.

What do you mean, an escape hatch? I don't understand...

     Sure you do. You've done it lots of times..... You find yourself in a crisis, then you come running to me. You promise me, "Lord, help me out of this mess, and I promise I'll never do it again." It's really amazing how the quality and quantity of your prayers improves when you are in trouble. Do you remember some of those bargains you tried to make with me?

Well, no.... I don't think..... Oh, yeah, Like the time Mom's friend saw me coming out of that dirty movie?

      That's one. Do you remember your prayer? I do. You promised that if she didn't tell your Mom where you'd been, you'd go to nothing but "G" rated movies from then on. She didn't tell your Mom, but you didn't keep your promise, did you?

No, Lord. I didn't. I'm sorry.

      So am I. Now go ahead and finish your prayer.

Wait a minute. I have a question: Do you always listen to my prayers?

      Every word, every time.

Then how come you never talked to me before?

      How many chances have you ever given me to talk to you? There's not enough time between your "Amen" and your snores for me to get a word in edgewise. How am I supposed to give you an answer?

You could, if you really wanted to.

      No, I could, if YOU really wanted me to! My child, I always want to talk to you!

I'm sorry, Father. Will you forgive me?

      I already have. And thanks for letting me interrupt you tonight. I get lonely to talk to you sometimes. Goodnight, my child. I love you.

Good night, God. I love you, too.

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This background was created by Rocklin Heidi from the artwork of Greg Olsen, titled "Don't Forget To Pray", and is used by permission of the artist. My thanks to both of them!

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