Late one evening a poor farmer on his way back from the market found himself without his prayer book. The wheel of his cart had come off right in the middle of the woods and it distressed him that this day should pass without him having said his prayers. So this is the prayer he made: “I have done something very foolish, Lord. I came away from home this morning without my prayer book and my memory is such that I cannot recite a single prayer without it. So this is what I am going to do: I shall recite the alphabet five times very slowly and you, to whom all prayers are known, can put the letters together to form the prayers I can’t remember.”
And the Lord said to his angels, “Of all the prayers I have heard today, this one was undoubtedly the best because it came from a heart that was simple and sincere.”
Source | Paulo Coelho
A VARIATION OF THE SAME STORY
A Jewish farmer, because he was carelessness, had to spend a Sabbath in his field. Preoccupied with his work, he let the sun go down without going home. Being a pious believer, he was not allowed to travel until sunset the next day. So he spend the day in the field, by himself, missing the Seder meal with his family and services at the synagogue. When he finally did return home the next evening, he was met by an irate wife and an equally upset rabbi. The rabbi chided him for his carelessness and asked him: “What did you do in the field by yourself all day? Did you at least pray?”
“Rabbi,” the farmer answered, “I’m not a very smart man and I don’t know many prayers. All the prayers I knew, I said in five minutes. What I did the rest of the day was simply recite the alphabet. I left it up to God to make some words out of all those letters.”
PONDER AND CONSIDER
- How would your life change if instead of praying by the book you consciously choose to leave the book behind and instead recite the alphabet slowly like it were a sacred mantra?
- How would your prayer change if instead instead of praying the words of other – these are the printed prayers – you humbly and simply weave together a few of your words emerging from the heart?