Unanswered Prayers

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by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

   Like some schoolmaster, kind in being stern,
   Who hears the children crying o’er their slates
   And calling, “Help me, master!” yet helps not,
   Since in his silence and refusal lies
   Their self-development, so God abides
   Unheeding many prayers. He is not deaf
   To any cry sent up from earnest hearts;
   He hears and strengthens when He must deny.
   He sees us weeping over life’s hard sums;
   But should He give the key and dry our tears,
   What would it profit us when school were done
   And not one lesson mastered?

         What a world
   Were this if all our prayers were answered. Not
   In famed Pandora’s box were such vast ills
   As lie in human hearts. Should our desires,
   Voiced one by one in prayer, ascend to God
   And come back as events shaped to our wish,
   What chaos would result!

         In my fierce youth
   I sighed out breath enough to move a fleet,
   Voicing wild prayers to heaven for fancied boons
   Which were denied; and that denial bends
   My knee to prayers of gratitude each day
   Of my maturer years. Yet from those prayers
   I rose alway regirded for the strife
   And conscious of new strength. Pray on, sad heart,
   That which thou pleadest for may not be given,
   But in the lofty altitude where souls
   Who supplicate God’s grace are lifted, there
   Thou shalt find help to bear thy daily lot
   Which is not elsewhere found.

by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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