It’s no secret that many of our military leaders believe in the power of prayer.
From Valley Forge to Afghanistan, our fighting men have turned to God in their hours of need. The old saying that “there are no atheists” in foxholes points out that many people, not just soldiers, pray when they are frightened or in danger. However, there are times when military leaders have turned to God for help in destroying their enemies.
My favorite is the famous “weather prayer” during the Battle of the Bulge. This battle was the single bloodiest battle in American history, fought in Germany in December of 1944. Desperately trying to fend off the Allies, the German army launched a surprise attack near the Belgian town of Bastogne. 12,000 American soldiers were under siege, and the situation was getting desperate.
The U.S. Third Army’s leader, General George S. Patton was on his way to break the siege but had been hampered by horrible weather. If he could get 24 hours of decent weather, he could send in the Third Army to rescue those brave soldiers. However, he had to have clear skies so they could get air cover. The planes couldn’t fly if the sky didn’t clear, and his men couldn’t rescue the heroes of Bastogne if they didn’t have the planes to clear the way.
It became obvious that as much control as Patton exercised over the Third Army, he had no control over the weather.
Patton was an interesting man, he believed in reincarnation, and yet he also was a Christian. So, he did the one thing he thought would help, he ordered Third Army chaplain Col. James O’Neill to draft a prayer for him. The chaplain thought it an odd request to ask God for fair weather so men could be killed, but he did his duty.
Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies, and establish Thy justice among men and nations. Amen
The weather did clear, just long enough for Patton’s forces to rescue the soldiers in Bastogne. The General celebrated by honoring Chaplin O’Neill with the Bronze Star.
As Christians we often forget that we are here to do the Lord’s work, and that sometimes that work may be unpleasant, or may seem to be against what we’ve been taught as Christians.
There is such a thing as “righteous” anger, when it is time to stand up and fight against those who would harm others or who would take away our freedom.
Next week we are faced with an important election. The choice is clear, but may not be without danger. Let us hope and pray that our political struggles do not end in violence, and that the extent of our fight is casting our ballot on November 6th.