There is a story of three holy men who lived simple lives in isolation on an island in the Aegean Sea. Many healings were attributed to their concern for the fishermen in the surrounding area. A local bishop decided to investigate and after rowing across to see them was appalled at their lack of scriptural knowledge and proceeded to instruct them on proper theology, including The Lord’s Prayer. Satisfied that he had succeeded in correcting the hermits, he sailed off for the mainland only to see his boat followed by a blinding light. It was the saints running across the waves.
“Bishop! Bishop!” they cried. “We have forgotten the prayer you taught us, please teach us again.”
The astonished bishop asked them how they managed to catch up to his boat.
“We prayed, ‘God, You are Three, we are three, have mercy on us,’ and hurried to catch you.”
The bishop, humbled in the boat, bid them return to the island and continue living as they had been, and to pray for him to understand the power and purity of their prayer.
Jesus tells the parable in Luke 18:9-14 of two men standing to pray in the temple. He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men; extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all I possess.’ The tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
The stages of grief that went through me after my father passed away left me without a prayer language, other than tears, for quite a while. One day I realized that the core prayer, the foundation of all the praying I’d ever done, came from the prayer I’d heard him say at the dinner table; “Bless us O Lord, and these Thy gifts, which we receive from Thy bounty, through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.” I began to repeat it, almost as a mantra, and came back to a hope and a trust that the best is yet to come. Keep It Simple Saints. Prayer is an action, not an act. And actions, as we all know, speak louder than words.