It started out with good intentions, but we all know where that road leads.
A significant portion of the local church I call home became discontent with how the current culture, for all practical purposes, ignores God. They wished God would step up to the plate and overwhelmingly prove His existence and superiority to the self-focused rabble.
"I mean, think about the Israelites in the desert. The surrounding nations KNEW there was something special going on because they could see the cloud during the day and the pillar of fire at night. I wish God would show up like that. I wish the community could SEE how powerful and awesome God is!"
At which point, somebody made the observation that you could pray as often as you wish.
And so, the CDFN (Cloud by Day, Fire by Night) Prayer Vigil was begun. A schedule was worked out so that there was someone praying in the church building three evenings a week while the rest of us waited with hope in our hearts.
It only took seven evenings of prayer before God answered those prayers with a resounding "Yes!"
Grandma Helen (who is nobody's actual grandmother, but who has taught second grade Sunday School since Flan-O-Graph was a cutting edge technology) was taking her shift in the CDFN Prayer Chapel when she noticed a bright orange light through the window. It took her a while to hobble over to the window, and by the time she got there, she could hear the sirens and see the flashing lights of several fire trucks as they raced toward the church building.
It was then that she peeked skyward and saw a large...you guessed it...pillar of fire.
Apparently, some neighbors had seen the flames appear and quickly dialed 911. What they didn't realize was that the flames were not actually coming from the building, but floating several yards above it. This did not, however, escape the notice of the firefighting professionals who were now gathered in the parking lot, gazing with mouths agape.
A few seconds later, the Fire Chief arrived: "What are you doing standing around with your mouths hanging open?!!? Let's go! Get those hoses hooked up!"
That's all it took for the rank and file to snap into muscle memory mode. In less than a minute, they were directing a powerful stream of water toward the base of the fire...which resulted in some over-watering of the community garden plot on the far side of the church building.
They shot water at that holy fire all through the night until, as the sun came over the horizon, the flames were replaced by a low-lying cloud...or, as the firefighting professionals called it, residual smoke and steam. With no damage to the building, they congratulated themselves, rolled up their hoses, and left to go feed their dalmatians.
Of course, the whole scene repeated itself at sundown.
* * * * * * *
It's been 6 months now, and the church staff has been terribly busy, what with all the court cases. We are being sued by our neighbors with solar panels because the daily cloud is rendering said solar panels useless. Other neighbors have filed a class action suit, demanding we pay damages for their lost sleep, extensive air conditioning usage, and lowered property value because of the nightly fire. Even the fire department is getting in on the action. They are insisting we pay their exponentially-increased water bill.
And the moral of the story, boys and girls, is to be careful what you pray for.