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By Jim Vasquez
All thanks to him who hears the prayers
Of those who humbly raise
Their voices in distress or want,
And turns their plea to praise.
Now much we find in history
Where God attended well
The supplicant’s unwearied suit
Wherever he might dwell,
And hearing, roused himself to grant
So kind and mercifully
All that his needy child implored,
In bounteous degree.
Now Abraham was much concerned,
His nephew Lot had gone
To live within a nearby town
With honor somewhat wan.
And so, addressing God he asked
If for the sake of men
Of righteous life therein he would
Forbear his ire then.
In truth his nephew’s life he sought,
Cared nothing for the rest,
And though the righteous were not found
God honored his request.
The city was not spared, by dawn
Dark smoke from embers rose,
But with his daughters Lot escaped,
With nothing but their clothes.
Consider also Israel ,
So oft in dire need,
And ever found a God of grace
Who all their cries would heed.
In Egypt ’s blistering sun they toiled,
Subdued, oppressed, enslaved.
And then a voice to Moses came
As if on stone engraved,
“Their cry to me has risen and
Their sufferings I know,
Now tell old Pharoah on the throne
To let my people go.”
And followed then, a multitude
Of signs, prodigious, strange,
Throughout the land from Nile to sea,
From town to desert range.
Did God their prayers attend? Oh yes!
Each faint, enfeebled plea,
And hastening to their call he made
A pathway through the sea.
The wilderness beset them soon
And sorely tried the man
Who from their bondage led them out,
This stubborn, rebel clan.
And when it seemed that God desired
To make of Moses yet
A different people for his own,
And Israel then forget,
‘Twas nothing less than Moses’ prayer
That stilled this harsh design,
Reminding God of promises
More gentle and benign,
That he to Patriarchs had sworn
In times not long before,
To prosper them and be their God,
Their portion evermore.
And Moses, fearing from the land
The people would be swept,
Once asked that he be blotted from
The Book of Life God kept,
But not belovéd Israel
For whom he ever prayed,
And by his prayers bears witness to
Their power to persuade.
Now humble folk are also heard
Whate’er their plight may be,
As Hannah was to find when she,
Quite barren, made her plea.
And childless, bearing ridicule
From others for her state,
Held fast to him above who could
If soon perchance, or late,
Grant her a son who would, she vowed,
Be given to the Lord.
And Samuel thus to temple doors
Was borne to live as ward.
And David’s soul was cleansed in full
Through pure, repentant prayer,
When for his sin with Bathsheba
His guilt he could not bear.
And prostrate, weeping, he confessed
This sin against the Lord.
And was in answer to his prayer
Most wonderfully restored.
The heav’ns themselves are subject to
Mere mortals when they pray,
As confident Elijah showed
In Ahab’s hapless day.
“Nor dew nor rain shall fall again
But by my word,” he said,
And thus the land by drought was struck
From field to river bed.
And when God’s purpose was fulfilled
He prayed again, and lo!
A sodden blessing o’er the land
Each cloud did then bestow.
And could there be a greater sign
To show how great God’s love,
Toward those who lift their voice to him
Who watches from above,
When undertaking some great work
As Nehemiah did,
And God then safely bears them through
The labors he has bid?
He set himself to build the walls
Around Jerusalem ,
While enemies prepared to sing
His hoped-for requiem.
But whether bearing spade or spear
His voice ascended high,
Imploring the Almighty’s aid
With every word and sigh.
The walls went up and Zion then,
Quite safe as e’er before,
To all God’s faithfulness and love
A potent witness bore.
In truth no beast though mighty that
Inhabits land or sea,
Can dare resist for long the power
That’s found within the plea,
Of him who lifts his plaintive voice
Though scarcely heard aloud,
As Jonah from the depths once knew
When penitent and bowed.
And is there need to further seek
A record of God’s love,
His care o‘er those who look to him
And loft their prayers above?
They seek redemption from their ways,
Deliv’rance from the throng,
Their voices oft bear strange appeals
Allowing many a wrong,
Though weak in words as well as soul
They call on him who hears,
And God, unfailing, rescues them
Midst all their pain and fears.
from the May 2009 Edition of the Jewish Magazine
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