The Crucial Difference

Heard of two fishermen of yore who I learned a crucial lesson the hard way?

They were close friends. They fished together. The catch was invariably good.

But one fine morning they found they weren’t getting any fish at all. They drew a blank the next day and the day after. Alarmed, they went to the wise old man of the village. He advised them to pray.
They followed the sage’s advice. But only one of them got good catches. Try however hard, the other didn’t succeed. Intrigued, they went back to the sage. The sage asked them what kind of prayers they offered.
The unlucky one claimed he had prayed well. The sage asked him to spell out his prayer. He did. Sure, he had prayed well and sincerely. However, he had only prayed for good catches for himself. ”Did you ever pray for your friend?” asked the sage.

”No,” said the man, “Wasn’t he praying for himself?”

The sage then asked the other fellow to reveal how he had prayed.

He had prayed for his friend first and for himself only thereafter. His friend happened to be in need of feeding his wife and children whereas he was alone, he explained.

The sage, as always, smiled at them.

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