Michael Shepherd

Rookie (8.4.1929 / Marton, Lancashire)

0369 Prayer. To Mike, Who Asked. - Poem by Michael Shepherd

Simplest prayer, soonest answered,
so it’s said; so let us be as little children
(themselves an answered prayer..?)
and ask the simplest questions -

how? whom to? for what? and will we get
what we are asking for? promise?
suppose He or She or It thinks, (if They think anyway..)
that’s it’s a silly thing to ask for,
or just a bit too ‘me’ and greedy,
will they say no? will they let us know
somehow, that’s it’s no?

or will our justice be
to get what we think we want
until the day we wish we hadn’t asked for it?
or is it like the tale of the three wishes,
everything turned to gold – including us! …
another wish, please cancel; then
the last and sensible small wish, which may even
include the welfare of all others too?

Some say the commonest of prayers
amounts to, please God, let two and two
please equal five…that prayers may only ask
what may be within the domain of the law
of our Creation; some even say that, given this,
we’ll always get what we wish for – eventually;
but that by some mighty, unalterable law,
as with the fairies gathered around
Sleeping Beauty’s cradle, as the Fates,
along with what we asked for, comes
a something else for which we didn’t ask…

others say that there’s no difference
between the meaning of a prayer, and praise;
that in our praise, our prayer is surely shaped
and those who do not think to praise
may never know, to whom to pray,
or ever truly know, for what…

and others of a theologic mind
pray to be taught, for what to pray…
or instead of prayer, to learn to willingly accept
all that befalls them, as the gift of all
that they might pray for, for their good of soul…


all this is for considering; but I suggest
that in the depths of grief, or heights of joy, we know
the place where prayer may arise:
so deep within ourselves, that it’s beyond
the asking or the answering; a place so deep
that there, our soul rests in peace,
all questions meet all answers,
and all desires are satisfied;
there is no loss,
and nothing lacks;
we are – ourselves; ourself; at peace;
and for that, we may surely pray.

Comments about 0369 Prayer. To Mike, Who Asked. by Michael Shepherd

  • (4/30/2006 11:52:00 AM)

    I too answered Mike's call and he pointed me in this direction. I must say, I'm glad he did. Complex layers and genuine heart make this a rewarding read, over and over.
    Anna xxx
    PS I especially liked the 3rd stanza.
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  • (4/28/2006 3:16:00 PM)

    I think I have answers to all the questions, too.

    The first is that we pray to be real -

    The first miracle of being human is that chemistry (us) can say the word chemistry.This is so glorious - well, everything is said about this, and it still can't be touched) .

    The other miracle is that chemistry can talk back to the chemistry that formed it. (spirit, prayer) It is like looking into a holy mirror - it is the only time one understands oneself, which is all we really want to do with life.

    Everything else is a cartoon of 2-dimensionality. What does God think, who does God like, what is God wearing right now - all the claptrap that clutters our heads.

    You're either out of the box, or you're in the box. Prayer... meditation... dance... takes me out. I was bloody vrutal to myself in every way until i figured this out... and now I'm the Bluebeard of happiness.
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  • (4/28/2006 3:07:00 PM)

    This starts out with a Roman candle of sputtering objections and postulations - and settles into a steady candleglow of understanding.

    To me prayer is utterly amazing. I never really prayed, not even in seminary when I was 13, ages in ages ago.

    But three years ago I took my kid to this evangelical retreat - my son was in the youth group, and ads were invited to attend. And what distinguished this little sect was that the guys would gather in groups of three or four, and hug another, and take turns praying out loud.

    I was dumbfounded, annoyed, and impressed. I think about all the dear friends I have jad in life - that I was never so close to as these guys - truck drivers, radiologists, teachers - were just doing this ordinary but fervent thing.

    I am a whore for intimacy, so I crowded close, and it was like an electric shock to be in the hive humming along.

    What followed was a long and awkward two year conversion... hating words like praise and worship and glory and all that quasi-fascist glop...

    But even when I am dry as a dead dog I come back to the warmth of this experience.

    Because... when you talk to God out loud, with other people... there isn't anywhere you can hide.For a poet, that was mother's milk.

    I didn't even believe in God and I still got the buzz.

    It's like being ball naked in the Capital rotunda... in a lovely way. I felt like a better man almost immediately.

    I also, to my horror, had that bad ear suddenly start working again.

    This is what my poem 'Alien Abduction' was about - trapped with no way out.
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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Poem Edited: Saturday, July 15, 2006

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