“Chaplain, sit for a moment. I want to talk to you about this business of prayer.” George S. Patton stood by the window watching the steady rain. For days, the Third Army had been bogged down due to the weather.
“Chaplain,” asked Patton, “how much praying is being done in the Third Army?” The Chaplain admitted that lately, not much.
“Chaplain, I am a strong believer in prayer. There are three ways men get what they want: by planning, by working, and by praying. Any great military operation takes careful planning or thinking. Then you must have well-trained troops to carry it out; that’s working. But between the plan and the operation there is always an unknown. That unknown spells defeat or victory, success or failure. Up to now, God has been very good to us.
We have never retreated. We have suffered no defeats, no famine, no epidemics. This is because a lot of people back home are praying for us. We were lucky in Africa, in Sicily, and in Italy, simply because people prayed. But we have to pray for ourselves too. We must ask God to stop these rains. This Army needs the assurance and the faith that God is with us. With prayer, we cannot fail.”
But what if we are forbidden to pray for the protection of our nation, the wisdom of our leaders, and the freedoms of our people? On August 29, 2011, a three-judge panel of the Fourth US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled officials could not pray before public meetings. The ruling, in the case of Joyner vs Forsyth County, admonished public officials to refrain from invoking the name of Jesus.
To pray is to call upon God and to invite Him into conversation. The Greek word enteuxis is often translated “intercession.” In the New Testament, the word is used to describe a petition presented to a king on the behalf of another. A petition is not an unspoken request but a bold supplication that carries with it the signatures of those who dared to come before the ruling authorities. God listens to our silent prayers, but He also longs to hear our voices raised to the heavens, demanding justice for the oppressed and assistance for the wounded and hurting.
Between December 12 and December 14, 1944, two hundred and fifty thousand copies of General Patton’s Prayer Cards were distributed to the troops. On December 20, the rains ceased. For almost a week, American warplanes bombarded the German army that had been advancing under the cloak of fog. General Patton prayed for fair weather and God sent it.
Perhaps it’s time to gather in our homes, churches, public squares, and courtrooms and ask God to have mercy on us and forgive our sins. Each year the United States recognizes a national day of prayer. What our country needs is a group of citizens who will pray without ceasing.
Will we embrace that challenge?
(Photo courtesy of morguefile and ensignmedia.)
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