From childhood Albrecht Dürer (German artist, 1471-1528) wanted to paint. Finally, he left home to study with a great artist. He met a friend who also had this same desire and the two became roommates. Both being poor, they found it difficult to make a living and study at the same time. Albrecht’s friend offered to work while Albrecht studied. Then when the paintings began to sell, he would have his chance. After much persuasion, Albrecht agreed and worked faithfully at his art while his friend toiled long hours to make a living for both of them.

The day came when Albrecht sold a woodcarving and his friend went back to his paints, only to find that the hard work had stiffened and twisted his fingers and he could no longer paint with skill. When Albrecht learned what had happened to his friend, he was filled with great sorrow. One day returning home unexpectedly he heard the voice of his friend and saw the gnarled, toilworn hands folded in prayer before him.

“I can show the world my appreciation by painting his hands as I see them now, folded in prayer.” It was this thought that inspired Albrecht Dürer when he realized that he could never give back to his friend the skill which had left his hands.

Dürer’s gratitude was captured in his inspired painting that has become world famous. And we are blessed by both the beauty of the painting and the beautiful story of gratitude and brotherhood.

“But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant” (Matthew 23:11, KJV).

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit” (John 12:24, KJV).

The Praying Hands

The “Praying Hands” are much, much more
Than just a work of art.
They are the soul’s creation
Of a deeply thankful heart.

They are a priceless masterpiece
That love alone could paint,
And they reveal the selflessness
Of an unheralded saint.

These hands so scarred and toilworn
Tell the story of a man
Who sacrificed his talent
In accordance with God’s plan.

For in God’s plan are many things
Man cannot understand,
But we must trust God’s judgement
And be guided by His Hand.

Sometimes He asks us to give up
Our dreams of happiness,
Sometimes we must forego our hopes
Of fortune and success.

Not all of us can triumph
Or rise to heights of fame,
And many times what might be ours
Goes to another name.

But he who makes a sacrifice,
So another may succeed
Is indeed a true disciple
Of our blessed Saviour’s creed.

For when we give ourselves away
In sacrifice and love,
We are laying up rich treasures
In God’s Kingdom Up Above.

And hidden in gnarled, toilworn hands
Is the truest art of living,
Achieved alone by those who’ve learned
The victory of giving.

For any sacrifice on earth
Made in the dear Lord’s name
Assures the giver of a place
In Heaven’s Hall of Fame.

And who can say with certainty
Where the greatest talent lies,
Or who will be the greatest
In our Heavenly Father’s eyes!

- Helen Steiner Rice
* * *
The best gifts are tied with heartstrings.

* * *
We may give without loving, but we cannot love without giving.

* * *
Sympathy sees, and says, “I am sorry.”
Compassion feels, and whispers, “I will help.”

Heaven’s Hall of Fame, Copyright © 1998-2012, The Family International