Dear Lord the dog ate my prayer
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.