USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘pray’
Folk speech
Proverbs

“Pray for what you want but work for what you need”

“Pray for what you want but work for what you need”

The informants mother constantly tells her this, and she says that it has followed her from childhood and it is something she still uses today. The phrase promotes appreciating the things you can work for like food and shelter, while seeing everything else as something extra. It is okay to have desires, but if you’re constantly working for something better and bigger you’ll never be satisfied. By combining praying and working the phrase puts equal responsibility on the individual as well as the God that they are praying to. God can’t provide everything, but if you work hard for what you need he may reward you with the things you want.

Folk speech
general
Magic
Protection
Proverbs

…From my lips to God’s ears.

My informant told me that a friend of hers used to say this phrase as sort of a superstitious prayer. It was sort of the opposite of the knock on wood superstition. The way it worked was that whenever my informant’s friend would talk about her kids, or her grandkids, by saying, “little Timmy’s so talented, he’s gonna be a fine doctor some day.”, or, “ That kid’s got a great arm, he’s gonna be a great ballplayer one day.”, immediately after she would say, “From my lips to God’s.”
There’s no getting around the fact that parents want the best for their kids, and I don’t doubt that there are a number of other similar types of sayings throughout the world. As I said before this saying is very similar to the knock on wood superstition, however instead of trying to ward off bad fortune, “From my lips to God’s ears” attempts to bring good fortune.

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