This prayer is online in a number of places. It was read in our church a while back by a professor of livestock management. (Yes, there really is such a discipline, and it takes some brains to master it.)

Cowboy poetry does give you a different perspective

if you can just get into it for a minute or two – and some of that perspective is true and valuable. When this was read in church, in a very unromantic and unpretentious way as part of the advent candle-lighting, it was really quite a moving event.

Cattle looking at reader

There are some quotes about S Omar Barker at cowboyminer.com (sadly, this site is no longer active – 2016), where you can also buy a book of Barker’s writing. They also provide this information:

Omar was born in the rugged Sangre de Cristo Mountains of northern New Mexico. S. Omar Barker was a rancher, high school teacher, college professor, forest ranger, soldier, outdoorsman, and legislator. He is best known, and rightly so, as one of the West’s best and most admired cowboy poets. He was named after his father Squire L. Barker but went by Omar. He often signed his books with his initials and trademark brand, “Lazy SOB”.

A COWBOY’S CHRISTMAS PRAYER

By S. Omar Barker (1894-1985)

I ain’t much good at prayin’, and You may not know me, Lord-

I ain’t much seen in churches where they preach Thy Holy Word,
But you may have observed me out here on the lonely plains,
A-lookin’ after cattle, feelin’ thankful when it rains,
Admirin’ Thy great handiwork, the miracle of grass,
Aware of Thy kind spirit in the way it comes to pass
That hired men on horseback and the livestock we tend
Can look up at the stars at night and know we’ve got a friend.

So here’s ol’ Christmas comin’ on, remindin’ us again

Of Him whose coming brought good will into the hearts of men.
A cowboy ain’t no preacher, Lord, but if You’ll hear my prayer,
I’ll ask as good as we have got for all men everywhere.
Don’t let no hearts be bitter, Lord.
Don’t let no child be cold.
Make easy beds for them that’s sick and them that’s weak and old.
Let kindness bless the trail we ride, no matter what we’re after,
And sorter keep us on Your side, in tears as well as laughter.

I’ve seen ol’ cows a-starvin, and it ain’t no happy sight:

Please don’t leave no one hungry, Lord, on thy good Christmas night-
No man, no child, no woman, and no critter on four feet-
I’ll aim to do my best to help You find ’em chuck to eat.

I’m just a sinful cowpoke, Lord-ain’t got no business prayin’-

But still I hope You’ll ketch a word or two of what I’m sayin’:
We speak of Merry Christmas, Lord-I reckon you’ll agree
There ain’t no Merry Christmas for nobody that ain’t free.
So one thing more I’ll ask You, Lord: Just help us what you can
To save some seeds of freedom for the future sons of man.

 

[This was first published here in 2005.]