The War Prayer

July 18, 2006

Thanks to Britt Towery for bringing up in his Ethics Daily column a piece by Mark Twain called "The War Prayer."

In it Twain tells the story of a mysterious man who appears at a church to challenge those there to be careful what they are praying for as they pray about war. The man then tells them that this is what is unsaid in their prayers:

O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle -- be Thou near them! With them -- in spirit -- we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot 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 unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it -- for our sakes who adore Thee, 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. Amen.
This is well done as only the American prophet Mark Twain can do! There is a lot here that should cause Christians to stop and think. But sadly, many will probably have the same response as those in the story do:

"It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said."