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Dueling Prayers

2007 May 10
by Mike

Overheard in the middle school Bible class last night:

Student A: Please pray that it stops raining. I’m tired of all the rain.

Student B: Please pray that it continues to rain. We need all the rain we can get.

Student C: “Dear God, some of us want it to quit raining, and some of us want it to keep raining. You can work it out.”

(Everything I needed to know about theology I learned in a middle school Bible class!)

– – – –

“The real question before our death, then, is not, How much can I still accomplish, or how much influence can I still exert? but, How can I live so that I can continue to be fruitful when I am no longer here among my family and friends?” – Henri Nouwen, Our Greatest Gift: A Meditation on Dying and Caring

24 Responses leave one →
  1. charlie s. permalink
    May 10, 2007

    That reminds me of the story of the old cotton farmer, sitting in the gin, watching it rain. A young man walked up to him and asked, “Do you think it will ever stop raining?”
    The old farmer turned to the young man and said “Son, I am 85 years old. I have spent 70 years of my life praying for it to rain, and 15 years praying for it to stop.”
    Life in West Texas.

  2. May 10, 2007

    I like Nouwen’s quote. When we plant the seed properly, we will be winning souls, raising funds, inspiring missionaries and reinforcing the troops from our graves. We’ll get more done dead than when alive….should He tarry long enough of course….because our influence will partner with His.

  3. May 10, 2007

    “How can I live so that I can continue to be fruitful when I am no longer here among my family and friends?” – Henri Nouwen”

    What a great thought! I’ll have to admit, though, that sometimes I can’t even figure out how to be fruitful even while I’m still here!

  4. May 10, 2007

    I heard someone say something similar last week. I shared what some of my fears were and the group I was in starting doing the same. One person said he had only one fear: that he would not be able to get all the light inside of him out. The fear had two manifestations: 1. that he would not reach out to as many people as he possibly could each and every day, and 2. that he would be too overbearing in sharing his light.

    To be fruitful, to share light, I hope I am living in a such a way that the fruit and light will still be productive after I am gone. Between Nouwen and middle schoolers, I may just learn a lot about God.

  5. May 10, 2007


    I am curious what things we do or say because we are still under the influence of someone long gone. Maybe even someone we barely knew. One of the reasons Don and I are here in Zambia in our old old age, is that I remember President Carter’s mother going to work in the Peace Corps in India when she was in her sixties. So mission work can be done by the old. I am grateful God doesn’t hold my age against me.

  6. cwinwc permalink
    May 10, 2007

    The son of a friend of ours once said that his Dad engaged in “head-knocking” prayers.

    His example went something like this:
    “Lord, (Dad praying at dinner table) please forgive my (middle school age) son. We love him will all of our heart but sometimes he does the dumbest (forgot to turn in some homework) things. Amen.”

  7. May 10, 2007

    I believe Christianity is all about relationship with God. So, in this situation, it would have to be whatever the will of God is, for God cause the rain to fall on the righteous and the unrighteous.

  8. May 10, 2007

    What are you gonna do without all those wonderful college kids helping out your Wed. night teachers? You even had some extra “moving my daughter out of the dorm” Mom help last night. 🙂

  9. May 10, 2007

    Great discussion. It is hard to read these thoughts and not walk away different.

  10. May 10, 2007

    A man was put to death in Tenn. the other day & a LOT of homeless folks ate well because he requested his last meal to be pizza for the homeless. (Of course, the state didn’t pay for it, but people donated them anyway.) THAT’S one way to be fruitful in death – no matter what his mistakes were in life.

  11. May 10, 2007

    If my young womanhood friend, Virginia were still alive I’m convinced I would still recognize her, even after these many decades since her young life ended. She was such a positive influence on me, walking through some very rebellious years with me, directing me to more positive paths than those I’d chosen. Her counsel still influences me and she is quoted often to other women as circumstances allow.

    When I turned sixty I held a rejoicing party. Finally, I had a clear, God-given job – mentor younger women. What a relief to know what would please Him in my life, [times spent with troubled young women before that time were not part of that ‘job’? Hmmmmm.] 😉

    God’s surprise party was to find I was the one blessed beyond measure by the very women He gave me to mentor. God is SOOOOOO good to me!! PTL!!!! [And so patient with this slow learner.]

    The Nouwen quote is a challenging goal. How would one even begin to measure an ongoing after death influence on others?

  12. Amy Boone permalink
    May 10, 2007

    Dueling prayers and dueling quotes…. here is a Eugene Peterson quote that reminded me of you, Mike…

    “The assumption of spirituality is that always God is doing something before I know it. So the task is not to get God to do something I think needs to be done, but to become aware of what God is doing so that I can respond to it and participate and take delight in it.”

    Pretty right on if you ask me….

  13. annie permalink
    May 10, 2007

    Amy, Love that quote from Peterson! I’m so trying to make that my mantra now. Thanks for sharing that.

    Always benefit from reading/hearing words from Nouwen too.

    Mike, your words at Pepperdine were just masterful. We missed getting to speak with you, but knew you were on a dead run the whole time you were there. See you soon……

  14. Josh Ross permalink
    May 10, 2007

    Amy, is the quote from “Eat this Book?”

  15. Amy Boone permalink
    May 10, 2007

    Josh, I don’t know… it was forwarded to me from a friend…

  16. May 10, 2007

    I have been listening those prayer requests for 3 years now and they are some of the most interesting times I have had in that class. Hey and 6th and 7th grade prayers are powerful remember all that Snow ? Ya that group has been praying for that for almost 2 years now….and almost prayed for that instead of rain.

  17. Traci permalink
    May 10, 2007

    When my son was 5 he asked why don’t we ever pray for Satan. I said I had never thought about it, but we started praying for him anyway. Looking at the big picture is sometimes easier with little eyes.

  18. Paul W permalink
    May 10, 2007

    Two books for the Copester to write:

    Middle School Theology, all we really need to know;
    Sheriff Taylor, Barnie Fife, and Opie….theology at its best;

  19. May 10, 2007

    I think one of the neat things about aging (I’m 58) is the realization that you know more and more people who have gone on to heaven. You know that that they are in glory and free from their pain and stress. In a very spiritual sense, it puts a bounce in my step.

  20. Joshua Alkire permalink
    May 11, 2007

    My favoite quote about prayer comes from the new Spider Man 3 movie:

    “Dear Jesus,

    I come before you today humbled…and ashamed…and ask only one thing:

    Please kill Peter Parker.”

  21. May 11, 2007

    I hear conflicting prayers all the time. Unfortunately…both voices are inside my head!!!

  22. May 11, 2007

    Paul, there are men in white coats who can help you with those voices in your head. 😉

  23. May 12, 2007

    Could it be that you and I were in dueling prayers last night?

    Have to admit I’m pleased with the Padres’ win over the Cardinals, but couldn’t help thinking about you and your love for that team as I watched the Padres shut them out.

    May today be even better! 😉

  24. May 13, 2007

    For the last 1.5 yrs I have been a “college mentor” in the FROGS class at Highland, a Wed night class for middle and high school girls from Highland’s neighborhood. Although I graduated from ACU today, those girls taught me some of the most important lessons I’ve learned in college. My favorite lesson was from one night a few weeks ago when we were discussing how we might answer Jesus if he were to ask us “What do you want from me?” My answer was admittedly selfish, saying I would want him to assure me that my life would turn out ok, my family would be healthy, etc. Right after I answered, one of my middle schoolers thought for a minute then said “You know how in the Bible it says that Jesus baptized his disciples? Well, I think I would want him to baptize me.” I will never read the first 4 verses in Matthew 18 the same again…

    I agree, everything I need to know about theology I’ve learned in middle school Bible class!

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