The War Prayer

If they could see US now …

Originally posted by Mark Twain:

It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and spluttering.

On every hand and far down the receding and fading spread of roofs and balconies a fluttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by.

Nightly the packed, mass-meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory which stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while.

In the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country and invoked the God of Battles beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpourings of fervid eloquence which moved every listener.

It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straight away got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety's sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.

Sunday morning came, the next day the battalions would leave for the front. The church was filled. The volunteers were there, their young faces alight with martial dreams -visions of the stern advance, the gathering momentum, the rushing charge, the flashing sabres, the flight of the foe, the tumult, the enveloping smoke, the fierce pursuit, the surrender!

Then home from the war, bronzed heroes, welcomed, adored, submerged in golden seas of glory!

With the volunteers sat their dear ones, proud, happy, and envied by the neighbours and friends who had no sons and brothers to send forth to the field of honour, there to win for the flag, or, failing, die the noblest of noble deaths.

The service proceeded; a war chapter from the Old Testament was read; the first prayer was said; it was followed by an organ burst that shook the building, and with one impulse the house rose, with glowing eyes and beating hearts, and poured out that tremendous invocation:

God the all-terrible! Thou who ordainest,
Thunder thy clarion and lightning thy sword!

Then came the "long" prayer.

None could remember the like of it for passionate pleading and moving and beautiful language. The burden of its supplication was, that an ever-merciful and benignant Father of us all would watch over our noble young soldiers and aid, comfort, and encourage them in their patriotic work.

Bless them, shield them in the day of battle and the hour of peril, bear them in His mighty hand, make them strong and confident, invincible in the bloody onset; help them crush the foe, grant to them and to their flag and country imperishable honour and glory…

An aged stranger entered and moved with slow and noiseless step up the main aisle, his eyes fixed upon the minister, his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to his shoulders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to ghastliness.

With all eyes following him and wondering, he made his silent way; without pausing, he ascended to the preacher's side and stood there waiting. With shut lids the preacher, unconscious of his presence, continued his moving prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in fervent appeal:

"Bless our arms, grant us the victory, O Lord and God, Father and Protector of our land and flag!"

The stranger touched his arm, motioned him to step aside (which the startled minister did) and took his place. During some moments he surveyed the spellbound audience with solemn eyes, in which burned an uncanny light; then in a deep voice he said:

"I come from the Throne bearing a message from Almighty God!"

The words smote the house with a shock; if the stranger perceived it, he gave no attention.

"He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd and will grant it if that is your desire after I, His messenger, have explained to you its meaning.

It IS full import. For it is like many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of unless he pause and think.

"God's servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused and taken thought?

Is it one prayer?

No, it is two; one uttered but not the other. Both have reached the ear of Him who hears all supplications, the spoken and the unspoken.

Ponder this, keep it in mind:

If you would ask a blessing on yourself, beware, lest without intent you invoke a curse upon your neighbor at the same time.
If you pray for the blessing of rain on your crop which needs it, you are possibly praying for a curse on some neighbour's crop which -may not need rain and can be injured by it.

"You have heard your servant's prayer -the uttered part of it.
I am commissioned by God to put into words the other part of it. That part which the pastor and also you in your hearts fervently prayed, silently.

And ignorantly and unthinkingly?

God grant that it was so! You heard the words 'Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!' That is sufficient. The whole of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words.

Elaborations were not necessary.

When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory; must follow it, cannot help but follow it.

Upon the listening spirit of God fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commands me to put it into words. Listen!

"Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth into battle; be you near them! With them in spirit. We also go from the sweet peace of our beloved fire-sides to strike the enemy.

O Lord our God, help us tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells.
Help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriotic dead.
Help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain.
Help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire.
Help us to wring the hearts of their inoffensive widows with useless grief.
Help us to turn them out roofless, with their little children to wander friendless in the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst; sports of the sun's flames in summer and the icy winds of winter; broken in spirit, worn with distress, imploring you for the refuge of the grave and denied it.

For our sakes who adore you, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet!

We ask it, in the spirit of love, of him who is the Source of Love and who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts.

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12 thoughts on “The War Prayer

  1. If you would ask a blessing on yourself, beware, lest without intent you invoke a curse upon your neighbor at the same time.True

  2. Originally posted by Twain:

    If you would ask a blessing on yourself, beware, lest without intent you invoke a curse upon your neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the blessing of rain on your crop which needs it, you are possibly praying for a curse on some neighbour's crop which -may not need rain and can be injured by it.

    So then, we should be more than careful what we ask for..

  3. Originally posted by tdjmd1:

    So then, we should be more than careful what we ask for..

    We should. But also be grateful that our prayers are not always answered. At least not in the way we expect.I think a big problem with our prayers is that we forget what we DID actually ask for when we start looking for their answers.I left the ending off the quote I took it from as it was just overstating the pith above.http://warprayer.org/I imagine the angels responsible for conveying our prayers start off on the wrong foot when they hear archaic words being used and are probably stultified when it comes to dogma and doggerel.How would they convey wind chimes and prayers rolled out by dogs?As if saying Rosaries wasn't bad enough.I'm pretty sure there is no-one at home for them. I'd have no qualms about a fly-past if I was one of them. I'd much rather chance censorship for due-dilligence than approach god with junk mail.I can understand from all this why people are more inclined to atheism than not. It's because we are more greedy than not and more stupid than not. Much more.If people didn't prefer religion on a stick to actual thinking, there would be no bad politicians. Just dead ones. They'd all end up like Ghadaffi, only a lot sooner. Idiots like George Bush and flagrant liars like Tony Blair would last less than 2 years and their would be no happy homes for them to retire to.They'd be tattooed and made to wear placards pointing them out in the food lines and over them above their cardboard boxes or wherever gutter or bridge they slept at night.

  4. Originally posted by Weatherlawyer:

    As if saying Rosaries wasn't bad enough.I'm pretty sure there is no-one at home for them.

    There was a time when I was stupid enough for rosaries -I was quite a naive little girl though- and ignorant or unaware of Jesus' words like this 'when praying, do not say the same things over and over again'.Michael, I don't already understand why people say to believe in Jesus and doing that thing yet. It's a real waste of their time and however, they keep on doing it. A behaviour nonsense, huh?Yes, yes, I know the cause behind their conduct but why to let or allow someone(s) manage yourself as any puppets.

  5. I feel religious, in many aspects of duty, honor and the right thing.I AM Not perfect or close, but there I have a infinite feeling of connectedness…not to sound weird, but maybe I dont understand how you feel when connected, because it seems the same for all really.And there are those of great good in religion, who are not hypocrites, or use religion as a tool.I feel that way of you both, if the discussion is there, and not yelling, oor sniping, it will solve itself. In reality, I dont know..not a clue. But time is a gift, life is a gift. I have had a wild time, many colors…many great people, many good things, more than bad.But the same is done, with money and power, put em all together and you have…where we all are now.

  6. Religion is a need, I think, for sake of our spiritual need.But when religious people mix this one with politics… Hmmm, you know… It's an adultery. A terrible thing.For instance, in Burma. What a horror to realize a part of the conflict is called 'Buddish'. My! I do know a little about Islamism or Coran, but knowing something about Buddhism and please, That is not fair to call those people so.What do they call 'peace', huh? The state where only they have the right of living on the earth. Please. Is that real 'peace'?And first, the Muslims, and later, who will be the next ones?

  7. Nowhere in human history has appeasement been so flagrant but at the doors of the United Nations.We had a Prime Minister whose government built up an airforce and RADAR reserve that was as good as the Royal Navy but after years of believing that there would be no more wars, was grossly overmatched by one of the greatest evils of the 20th century.So his only weapon at the time was to do nothing and hope to build up a stronger military force to match Hitler.For this he conceded everything Hitler asked for. And that led to his dismissal as ruler of the country.But it led to the succession of an idiot every bit as stupid as George Bush. So where does sillines start and end?I don't know.But to use the term Christian for any fighting force is not right. Fighting forces are only useful if they are never needed any else is a failure of politics.So there was a case for feeling that to spend money on something that would never be used is a total waste. Then the politics fails because every so often there rises and is allowed to prosper ab bloody fool and a criminal.Even today in so called civilised countries Serbia for instance. Albania.Wherever.As if the great powers couldn't step in even now and end all wars in Africa. After the attack on New York in 2001, collections made in N.E. USA for the IRA terrorists/freedom fighters was stopped.Overnight.There wasn't any trace of any religion in any of that though it was all done for the same god.And look where it got any of them.

  8. Religious end is the excuse. The political -no, no. The economical end -instead, is the engine that move all of that machinery. Their god is Mammon, that is, not a specific deity but the money or riches. Material riches, particularly money, actually belong to and are under the control of “Caesar,” who issues money and assigns a particular value to it. Political parties are related to economic sector because the last one controls the other and thus, it's so easy to understand the origin of any war and besides, to determine the name of which god they fight ever.Tell me, if I am wrong..

  9. I'm blameless: when I was born the present system of things was already in place.Well at least I try: I'm not politic -in fact, totally neutral in that issue, and besides, though no practising the interfaith, I don't support any religious prejudice. I feel no blame at all.. Do you feel so, huh? You look like attributing some responsibility to yourself.

  10. There are none blameless..we give names to right and wrong to distance us from the truth of our collusions and inaction. Right and wrong is not political, its obvious, until muddied by wrong.

  11. I try to get answer to my own questions according to the facts. I am not waiting someone else replies to my doubts.. it's so evident something is wrong.. When you look at those people crying desperately or the torture. Hmmm.. you can think the less to get an explication makes sense to all of that nonsense.It's a craziness.. on whole.

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