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Dear Lord the dog ate my prayer

October 1, 2009

I recently remembered, or perhaps a small still voice penetrated the umbrageous shell surrounding my conscience, that a prayer is an offering, not a demand. How often it is that I attempt to couch my demands with alternatives, as though God need only choose the one from my list that is in his will. Too often my prayers are not offerings; they do not offer glory and honor and praise to God, but a to-do list.

Our next-door neighbors own a yappy little dog. We have been treated to his shrill polemic at all hours of the day and night. He has announcements to make at 1 AM, 3 AM, 5 AM, midnight, and throughout the day. I have to say that by all objective standards his voice is obnoxious and shrill. My neighbors define the antithesis of considerate. They are not what we would call approachable. But we have determined, because of unpleasant times past, and restoration of at least token civility since, to be longsuffering because we believe it is better to have neighbors than to have rights.

I do not pray for the dog’s destruction. But I churn wishful notions of coyotes, eagles, and alien dognappers over in my mind, especially at night, when the dog wakes me up. I lately devised a scheme wherein we move away and sell our house to the city for housing for sexual predators. Ciao, puppy.

I harbor no hope that God approves such thoughts.

You are indeed angry,
for we have sinned —
In these ways we continue;
And we need to be saved.

I look around my neighborhood and see how God has responded in the recent past to earnest prayer. People who have needed help have received it. Homes that have needed overhauls have work in progress. Our neighborhood has never had an incident of violence or significant crime. We don’t hear arguments, even in summer with open windows. The drag racers and stereo boomers have, for the most part, grown up. Tensions have softened. Neighbors chat over trash cans. All in all, urban harmony prevails.

I pray for peace within myself, because that is where, as Marianne Moore observed, the war is. I lose more sleep conjuring nemesis against the dog, and the hammer of justice pounding my neighbors into sensibility, than I do from the cur’s barking. I pray to be a longsuffering and not a factious neighbor. I pray to be a godly neighbor. I pray for grace for my neighbors, as well.

But I still wish the yappy little dog would get a job.

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6 Comments
  1. October 2, 2009 7:40 am

    You have my heartfelt sympathy, if that’s any comfort. There were nights when I wanted to personally strangle Zack, and I’m not really the violent personally strangling kind.

    I thought of what you said about ‘giving God options’ when I caught myself doing so, praying this morning. It’s good to be more aware of that; thank you. I hadn’t really thought of how we tend to do that, and how much of an exercise in futility it is — both as regards actually directing God’s actions, and as regards stilling our own hearts in prayer for His will.

  2. Janet permalink
    October 14, 2009 1:55 pm

    Lauren,

    You reminded me of my favorite children’s book. Harry was a little dog (not the yappy kind, but the bouncy, happy kind). He did not like to hear anything shrill; Harry loved the *low* notes. Unfortunately he lived next door to an aspiring opera singer, soprano of course. It hurt poor Harry’s ears something fierce! So when a local civic group sponsored a singing contest for a scholarship to study music at a place far, far away, Harry devised an elaborate plan to make sure his neighbor lady won. I don’t recall the plan in detail, but it involved a judiciously placed frog on the other contestant’s chair. Anyway, the neighbor lady won the contest, and Harry went to the ship to see her off, delighting in the low, low sound of the fog horn as the dear lady slipped farther and farther out to sea.

  3. October 14, 2009 2:01 pm

    Janet,

    I’ve actually had the idea for some time, and you have reinforced it, to enter a contest in the yappy little dog’s name and win him a Stygian cruise.

  4. October 27, 2009 6:57 am

    I have to say that the story about Harry made me laugh when I read it, and was immensely wonderful. Janet, if you read this, could you supply the title? I would love to keep my eye out for it.

  5. Janet permalink
    October 27, 2009 3:36 pm

    Heidi,

    The book is called, “Harry and the Lady Next Door”. The author is Zion, and for the life of me I can’t remember his first name, but I know the children’s section of your library will have it. Another favorite Harry book, the exact title of which I can’t remember, is about the sweater that Grandma knit for Harry, which he hated, and which ended up as a little bird’s colorful nest.

  6. October 29, 2009 6:12 pm

    Oh thank you so much for materialising to answer that Janet! I’m definitely doing a search on my library website. Those sound really charming and wonderful.

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