Stamp of Approval

Stamp of Approval featured

In the third of three poems, Bruce Black reflects on prayer.

Do prayers receive a stamp of approval
when they arrive in heaven? Maybe there's 
an angel sitting at a desk reading each prayer, 
deciding which one gets passed on to God 
and which gets dismissed—tossed into 
the wastebasket to be shredded later—
while those that are passed on get 
the stamp of approval?

But even then there's no guarantee your
prayer will be heard. There are so many
prayers and only so much time.
So, another angel must have to sift 
through them all deciding yes or no,
accepted, rejected, and you'll never know
which pile your prayer falls into.

Even those accepted still need to make it
past more angels judging the prayers 
that are to be handed to God, and even
then the prayers can be pushed aside, 
only a handful brought to God for review.

So you can pray and pray—all day, all night—
you can pray all your life, on holidays, and
on ordinary days, hoping your prayer is
heard, hoping God will answer you, never
knowing if your prayer reaches God's ear.

In the end maybe it doesn't matter, only
that you keep praying, keep believing in God,
keep hoping your prayer receives a stamp of 
approval, keep waiting for an answer.

This poem was originally published on the Poetry Super Highway.


Bruce Black is the author of Writing Yoga (Rodmell Press/Shambhala) and editorial director of The Jewish Writing Project. He received his BA from Columbia University and his MFA from Vermont College. His work has appeared in Elephant Journal, Blue Lyra Review, Tiferet Journal, Hevria, Poetica, Reform Judaism, The Jewish Literary Journal, Mindbodygreen, Yogi Times, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and elsewhere. He lives in Sarasota, FL.
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