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Your petitions—though they continue to bear
just the one signature—have been duly recorded.
Your anxieties—despite their constant,
relatively narrow scope and inadvertent
entertainment value—nonetheless serve
to bring your person vividly to mind.
Your repentance—all but obscured beneath
a burgeoning, yellow fog of frankly more
conspicuous resentment—is sufficient.
Your intermittent concern for the sick,
the suffering, the needy poor is sometimes
recognizable to me, if not to them.
Your angers, your zeal, your lip smackingly
righteous indignation toward the many
whose habits and sympathies offend you—         
these must burn away before you’ll apprehend
how near I am, with what fervor I adore
precisely these, the several who rouse your passions.

Deal with anger before the sun goes down, asserts the apostle Paul (Eph. 4:26). Why? Because unchecked anger dominates our outlook and even our prayers — “Your petitions—though they continue to bear just the one signature—have been duly recorded.” Yes, our “intermittent concern for the sick” sometimes rises, but we mostly want to vent toward “the many whose habits and sympathies offend you.” If we knew our “angers” and “lip smackingly righteous indignation” was diminishing our communication with others—and even God—would we care? Could we stop even if we wanted? – Timothy Muehlhoff

Cite this article
Scott Cairns, “Possible Answers to Prayer”, Christian Scholar’s Review, 51:3 , 353-353

Scott Cairns

Seattle Pacific University
Scott Cairns is a poet, having published nine collections of poetry. Cairns is also Professor of English at Seattle Pacific University where he is the program director of the MFA in creative writing program. “Possible Answers to Prayer,” in Slow Pilgrim: The Collected Poems by Scott Cairns.