David Bruce: Resist Psychic Death — Prayer, Preachers


• A pious man once went to say his prayers at a mosque. However, an uneducated man was already saying his prayers there, and the uneducated man mispronounced a word of his prayers. The pious man felt that it would be inappropriate to stand near the uneducated man to say his prayers, so he moved away from the uneducated man before saying his prayers. That night, the pious man dreamed that God spoke to him, saying, “If you had stood behind the uneducated man and said your prayers, you would have earned My pleasure. Instead, you found fault with his pronunciation, and you ignored the purity and excellence of his heart. I cherish a pure and excellent heart much more than the correct pronunciation of words.”

• On Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, God passes judgment upon people — either for life or for death. One year, Rosh Hashanah fell on the Sabbath. Rabbi Levi Itzchok prayed, “Master of the World, Thou knowest that today is not only the first of the year but also the holy Sabbath. Since Thou hast ordained that no writing be done on this day Thou too will not desecrate this day. It is therefore impossible for Thee to inscribe our verdict for the coming year without violating the Sabbath. There is only one thing that Thou art able to do. Thou mayest insert the word ‘life’ for all of us since Thy sacred law teaches that the saving of life alone permits the violation of the Sabbath.”

• Children sometimes say funny things in prayers. A nine-year-old once prayed, “Please bless dad’s family jewels.” A three-year-old whose father pretended that the long cardboard tube from a roll of wrapping paper was a sword prayed, “Please bless me that I can smash daddy’s sword into tiny pieces.” A three-year-old girl prayed to thank God for letting her “play in the middle of the night.” Often, her parents found her awake and playing after 10 p.m.

• Once, the originator of Hassidism — the Baal Shem Tov, also known as the Besht — declined to enter a house of worship. When asked why, he said, “The prayers recited here were uttered in a lifeless and mechanical manner. They had no wings. They never reached the higher spheres. They are choking the House of God. There is no room for me.”

• One day, Edwin Porter, a preacher, was playing with his little granddaughter and saying things like, “Throw the ball to Grandfather” and “Walk for Grandfather.” After playing like this for some time, the call for breakfast came, and Rev. Porter prayed over the morning meal, “Our Grandfather in Heaven, we thank thee ….”


• The evaluation committee of Rev. J. Christy Ramsey, the pastor of the Ottawa (Ohio) Presbyterian Church, once gave him the humbling task of comparing his own ministry to that of Jesus. Rev. Ramsey came up with many observations, including these: Jesus walks on water; Rev. Ramsey slips on ice. Jesus changes water into wine; Rev. Ramsey changes water into coffee. Jesus curses fig tree; Rev. Ramsey kills houseplants. Jesus raises the dead; Rev. Ramsey wakes teenagers. Jesus casts out demons; Rev. Ramsey turns on night-light. And finally: Jesus cleanses lepers; Rev. Ramsey has changed dirty diapers.

• John Bright’s speeches could be understood by everyone in the audience. Before speaking in public, Mr. Bright tested his speeches on his gardener. If the gardener was unable to understand the speech, Mr. Bright changed the speech until the gardener was able to understand it. A famous passage written by Mr. Bright concerned the Crimean War: “The angel of death is abroad in the land; you can almost hear the beating of his wings.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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