- Oh yeah. Let's see... bless the poor and the sick and the needy and the afflicted... * Do you really mean that?
- Well, sure I mean it. * What are you doing about it?
- Doing? Who, me? Nothing. I guess. I just think that it would be kind of nice if You got control of things down here like You have up there, so people don't have to suffer so. * Have I got control of you?
- Well I go to church, I pay my tithe, I don't... * That isn't what I asked you. What about your temper? You have a problem there, and your friends and family suffer. And then there's the way you spend your money... all on yourself. And how about the kinds of books you read?
- Stop picking on me. I'm just as good as some of the rest of those I see every Sunday at church. * Excuse Me. I thought you were praying for me to bless the needy. If that is to happen, I'll have to have help from the ones who are praying for it... like you.
- All right. I guess that I have a few hang-ups, now that You mention it. I could probably mention some others. * So could I.
- 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 people like Ralph?
- "That" Ralph... but he smokes and drinks and never goes to church. * Have you ever looked in his heart lately?
- Of course not. How can... * I have. I looked. And it's one of those honest hearts your were just praying about.
- O.K. then, get the missionaries over there. Do you think I like having a non-member for a neighbor? * Aren't you supposed to be a missionary? I thought I made that pretty clear.
- Hey, wait a minute. What is this? Criticize "me" day? Here I am, doing my duty, keeping your commandments to pray. And all of a sudden you break in and start reminding me of all my problems. * Well, you called Me. And here I am. Keep on praying. I'm interested in this next part. You haven't changed the order around have you?... Go on...
- Please forgive me of all my sins... and help me to forgive others. * What about Bill?
- See. I knew it. I knew you'd bring him up. Listen Lord, he told lies about me, and I got fired. All my co- workers think I'm a first class creep, and I didn't do anything. I'm going to get even with him! * But your prayers. What about your prayers?
- I didn't mean it. * Well, at least you're honest. I guess you 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. * Do you want to know a secret?
- What secret? * You won't feel better. You'll feel worse. Listen to me. You forgive Bill and I'll forgive you.
- But Lord, I can't forgive Bill. * Then I cannot forgive you.
- No matter what? * No matter what. But you're not through with your prayer yet. Go on.
- Oh all right... please help me to control my feelings and not yield to temptations. * Good. Good. I'll do just that. But you 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 tv. Some of that stuff is going to get to you sooner or later. You'll find yourself involved in some terrible things before long... and don't use me for an escape hatch either.
- An escape hatch? I don't understand. * Sure you do. You've done it lots of times -- you find yourself in a crisis situation, then you come running to me. "Lord, help me out of this mess and I promise I'll never do it again." It's amazing how the quality and intensity of your prayers improve when you are in trouble. Do you remember some of those bargains you tried to make with Me?
- Well I don't think... Oh... yeah... like the time Mom's visiting teacher saw me coming out of that movie about... Oh brother... * Do you remember your prayer. I do. "Oh God. Don't let her tell my mother where I've been. I promise I'll go to nothing but "G" rated movies from now on. She didn't tell your mother, but you didn't keep your promise. Did you?
- No Lord, I didn't. I'm sorry. * So am I. Go ahead and finish your prayer.
- Wait a minute. I want to ask you a question. Do you always listen to my prayers? * Every word. Every time.
- Then how come you never talked back to me before? * How many chances have you given me? There's not enough time between your "Amens" and your head hitting the pillow for me to draw a breath. How am I supposed to give an answer?
- You could, if you really wanted to. * No. I could if *you* really wanted Me to. Child, I always want to.
- Father, I am sorry. Will you forgive me? * I already have. And thanks for letting me interrupt. I get lonely to talk to you sometimes. Good night. I love you.