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Grace and I were hiking one of the wonderful trails at the Mohonk Mountain House up in the Catskills early one morning when three women passed by us. Exchanging pleasantries, from our visitors' accents we deduced they were from the deep south (South Carolina, it turned out.)  


Remarking on the beauty of the day, I said "What a place to enjoy God's creation!" One of the women peered at me and asked, "Can we pry?" I grew momentarily uncomfortable, awaiting a question like what size underwear did I wear, or did I drool in my sleep. My angst was put to rest when I realized they meant, "Can we pray?" I've never been good at languages. English is enough of a problem, so I couldn't readily decipher their southern.  Anyway, we joined hands and one of the women offered a prayer of thanksgiving for the day, the surroundings and the pleasure of new company.


I've thought of that variously since, smiling at the conflation of pry and pray. The dictionary defines "pry" three ways, as follows.


1.  "To obtain something from someone with effort."  Come to think of it, isn't that what prayer is? Most of our prayers are petitioning the Almighty for something, trying to obtain that objective with the Lord's intercession/effort. 


2.  "To use force in order to move or open something."  Once again, there is no force equal to that of the Creator of all things, and in prayer we ask that He use His might force to move our hearts, minds, souls or physical needs a little closer.


3.  "Inquire too closely into a person's private affairs."  A bit of a stretch, but I always feel like God's got a lot on His mind running the whole universe and everything, so pestering Him to help me with my picayune private affairs may be a bit presumptuous. Nonetheless, the Good Book encourages prayer, so I presume to inquire as to the Lord's interrupting His private affairs to assist my private affairs.    


The bottom line is I've concluded I needn't have translated the Carolinian pry into prayer. What we were doing was in fact prying. In a good sense. So wherever you are this fine day, take a moment to give thanks to the Lord-- and be sure to pry.


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