Vol.XV No.XII Pg.6
February 1979

Prayer & Potato Bugs

Robert F. Turner

Here is more from Safed the Sage, by William E. Barton; 1919. Space forces me to edit and digest, but the style of the original work is preserved, including profuse use of capital letters. I am quoting from books borrowed from Larimore White, grandson of the well-known T. B. Larimore.


There came one to me and said, “Oh Safed, I am told that thou art a wise man and also a righteous man.” And I answered, “The two are not wholly incompatible; if men say such things concerning me I must be the more mindful of my folly and my unworthiness.”

And he said, “Dost thou believe in the power of prayer?”

Forasmuch as he knew very well what I believed, I answered him as I answer men when I desire that they shall make the Next Move. And I said unto him, “Whether thou hast come to be enlightened, or hast come to enlighten me, say on, for the sunlight is scarce.”

And he said, “I believe that God answereth every prayer. Dost thou so believe?” And I answered, “Yea; and sometimes He answereth ‘Yea’, and sometimes He answereth ‘Nay’.”

And he said, “There is no ‘Nay’ with the Almighty when the prayer of faith is answered.” And I said, “It is well that all men pray the prayer of faith. But the prayer of faith is still the prayer of human understanding; and although the faith be perfect, the wisdom may be scant. Wherefore, if God must needs say ‘Yea’ to every fool prayer, then would I desire to move into some Other Universe. For I do verily believe that God doth not loan his Rubber Stamp to every strong-faithed and weak-minded Christian.”

And he said, “Cannot God turn our folly into wisdom?”

And I answered, “God can do everything that denieth not his own nature and that involveth no contradiction of terms. But some things that God can do, God is too good and too wise to do, even though all the foolish Christians on earth do tease Him.”


A Great and Beautiful Tree grew for an Hundred Years beside a stream. Cattle rested in the shade thereof, and Birds of Heaven did build their Nests in the branches thereof. But there came a Potato Bug who desired to fill his Belly from a Potato Patch on the far side of that stream. And he rested by the tree, and he prayed. And in the night there arose a Great Wind, and it smote the tree so that it fell across the stream. And when morning was come, the Potato Bug climbed upon the tree, crossed the water, and entered the Potato Patch.

The Cattle mourned for the Shade which had sheltered them, and the Birds were Sorrowing over their Broken Eggs, and over their little birds that were Crushed, and over their Homes that were Desolate. But the Potato Bug knew it not, nor regarded it; but thanked his God for the answer of the Prayer of the Potato Bug.

(A combine of two Safed articles —)