Nonfiction > Lionel Strachey, et al., eds. > The World’s Wit and Humor > Russian, Scandinavian, etc.
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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes.  1906.
Vol. XIV: Russian—Scandinavian—Miscellaneous
 
Prayer
By Ivan Turgenev (1818–1883)
 
From “Poems in Prose”

WHATEVER a man prays for, he prays for a miracle. Every prayer reduces itself to this: “Great God, grant that twice two be not four.”
  1
  Only such a prayer is a real prayer from person to person. To pray to the Cosmic Spirit, to the Higher Being, to the Kantian, the Hegelian, quintessential, formless God, is impossible and unthinkable.  2
  But can even a personal, living, imaged God make twice two not to be four?  3
  Every believer is bound to answer “He can,” and is bound to persuade himself of it.  4
  But what if reason sets him revolting against his unreasonableness?  5
  Then Shakespeare comes to his aid: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,” etc.  6
  And if they set about confuting him in the name of truth, he has but to repeat the famous question: “What is truth?”  7
  And so let us eat, drink, and be merry—and say our prayers.  8
 
 
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