The Three Hermits- A Lesson in Prayer by Tolstoy

I’ve been learning a bit about the Russian author, Leo Tolstoy. I came across this interesting fact- he actually wrote something short!

The Three Hermits is a short story about a highly intellectual, spiritually disciplined Bishop who hears about three simplistic monks on an island. All the monks do every day is pray and meditate. The Bishop is determined to teach these foolish, uneducated men about God and the Bible, with a biased Captain as his guide.

Upon meeting the humble hermits, the Bishop learns how they pray and informs them it is wrong. He teaches them the Lord’s Prayer and they fervently memorize it. As the Bishop leaves the island, they cry out to him, upset. “As long as we kept repeating  the Prayer, we remembered it, but we stopped praying the prayer for a time and then we forgot the whole thing! Help us!”

The Bishop blesses them and says, “Pray your own prayers to God. Pray for us sinners.”

Tolstoy precludes this short story/parable with verses from the New Testament.

‘And in praying use not vain repetitions, as the Gentiles do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him.’ — Matt. vi. 7, 8.

In The Red String, Li begs Pastor Dave to teach him how to pray. Pastor Dave has Li repeat the Lord’s Prayer. There’s a lot of good in praying the Lord’s prayer. It’s the prayer Jesus taught us to pray. But it is not the only way to pray. In the sequel, The Red Cloak, Ainsling and Li will learn about the need for one word prayers, (Anne Lamott style), such as, “Wow, Thanks, Help.”

Do you pray? How do you pray (most of the time)? Structured prayers or impromptu prayers?  Long or short prayers?

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