The Irish Sailor who didn’t know how to pray

Before becoming president, Abraham Lincoln was a lawyer. Often he used humour to get the attention of a judge whom he needed a favour.

On one particular occasion, Lincoln was anxious to get the attention of the judge, he announced: “May it please your Honor, I am like the Irish sailor, and beg your Honor to excuse me for this hurried interruption.”

The line worked. The judge asked Lincoln to explain his ‘Celtic sailor’ analogy.

Lincoln responded:

Well, an Irish sailor was overtaken at sea by a heavy storm and he thought he would pray but didn’t know [how], so he went down on his knees and said: ‘Oh, Lord! you know as well as meself that it’s seldom I bodder ye, but if ye will only hear me and save me this time, bedad it will be a long time before I bodder ye again’.” (The Log Cabin Sage)

For some reason, it reminds me of a joke where there is a great flood, and a very pious man starts praying to God to save him. A few minutes later, a boat comes by and the pious man – says “No Thanks. I have prayed to God, and he will come and save me soon”. The boat leaves. Another 30 minutes and a helicopter flies by, but again the pious man says “No thanks. God always listens to my prayer, he will come and save me.”

Another hour passed and the sea levels continued to rise and the man drowned. When he got to Heaven, he couldn’t understand why God didn’t save him, so St Peter enlightened him – who do you think sent the boat and helicopter?!


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