If a prayer can win a war, can it not fix our tiny troubles now?
Our situation certainly mirrors Patton’s when he asked for the prayer…
Msgr. James H. O’Neill, Patton’s Third Army Chaplain, wrote about the prayer in the 50s. Interesting and quite moving.
The incident of the now famous Patton Prayer commenced with a telephone call to the Third Army Chaplain on the morning of December 8, 1944, when the Third Army Headquarters were located in the Caserne Molifor in Nancy, France: “This is General Patton; do you have a good prayer for weather? We must do something about those rains if we are to win the war.” My reply was that I know where to look for such a prayer, that I would locate, and report within the hour. As I hung up the telephone receiver, about eleven in the morning, I looked out on the steadily falling rain, “immoderate” I would call it — the same rain that had plagued Patton’s Army throughout the Moselle and Saar Campaigns from September until now, December 8. The few prayer books at hand contained no formal prayer on weather that might prove acceptable to the Army Commander. Keeping his immediate objective in mind, I typed an original and an improved copy on a 5″ x 3″ filing card:
“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.
I pondered the question, What use would General Patton make of the prayer? Surely not for private devotion. If he intended it for circulation to chaplains or others, with Christmas not far removed, it might he proper to type the Army Commander’s Christmas Greetings on the reverse side. This would please the recipient, and anything that pleased the men I knew would please him:
To each officer and soldier in the Third United States Army, I Wish a Merry Christmas. I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. We march in our might to complete victory. May God’s blessings rest upon each of you on this Christmas Day. G.S. Patton, Jr, Lieutenant General, Commanding, Third United States Army.
After reviewing and approving the prayer and it’s Christmas missive, General Patton and the Chaplain discussed prayer at some length. That discussion resulted in “Training Letter #5″ issued by the Third Army Chaplain to all the Chaplains as well as Regimental Commanders and above in the 26 Divisions comprising Third Army. It was distributed on December 14, 1944.
Chaplains of the Third Army
At this stage of the operations I would call upon the chaplains and the men of the Third United States Army to focus their attention on the importance of prayer.
Our glorious march from the Normandy Beach across France to where we stand, before and beyond the Siegfried Line, with the wreckage of the German Army behind us should convince the most skeptical soldier that God has ridden with our banner. Pestilence and famine have not touched us. We have continued in unity of purpose. We have had no quitters; and our leadership has been masterful. The Third Army has no roster of Retreats. None of Defeats. We have no memory of a lost battle to hand on to our children from this great campaign.
But we are not stopping at the Siegfried Line. Tough days may be ahead of us before we eat our rations in the Chancellery of the Deutsches Reich.
As chaplains it is our business to pray. We preach its importance. We urge its practice. But the time is now to intensify our faith in prayer, not alone with ourselves, but with every believing man, Protestant, Catholic, Jew, or Christian in the ranks of the Third United States Army.
Those who pray do more for the world than those who fight; and if the world goes from bad to worse, it is because there are more battles than prayers. ‘Hands lifted up,’ said Bosuet, ’smash more battalions than hands that strike.’ Gideon of Bible fame was least in his father’s house. He came from Israel’s smallest tribe. But he was a mighty man of valor. His strength lay not in his military might, but in his recognition of God’s proper claims upon his life. He reduced his Army from thirty-two thousand to three hundred men lest the people of Israel would think that their valor had saved them. We have no intention to reduce our vast striking force. But we must urge, instruct, and indoctrinate every fighting man to pray as well as fight. In Gideon’s day, and in our own, spiritually alert minorities carry the burdens and bring the victories.
Urge all of your men to pray, not alone in church, but everywhere. Pray when driving. Pray when fighting. Pray alone. Pray with others. Pray by night and pray by day. Pray for the cessation of immoderate rains, for good weather for Battle. Pray for the defeat of our wicked enemy whose banner is injustice and whose good is oppression. Pray for victory. Pray for our Army, and Pray for Peace.
We must march together, all out for God. The soldier who ‘cracks up’ does not need sympathy or comfort as much as he needs strength. We are not trying to make the best of these days. It is our job to make the most of them. Now is not the time to follow God from ‘afar off.’ This Army needs the assurance and the faith that God is with us. With prayer, we cannot fail.
Be assured that this message on prayer has the approval, the encouragement, and the enthusiastic support of the Third United States Army Commander.
The most striking part of this story comes with consideration of the dates. The prayer was written on December 8th, 1944, Training Letter #5 was distro’d on December 14th. The German breakthrough, which came to be known as “The Battle of the Bulge” began on December 16th. By the 21st the Germans had surrounded the 101st Airborne Division in Bastogne. On the 22nd the weather cleared and on the 26th the 4th Armored Division, part of Third Army, opened a corridor into Bastogne. By 7 January 1945, after abandoning most of their equipment, the German Panzer Divisions withdrew and the Battle was over.
For the last two years the Tea Parties have been growing, more and more Americans join the fight to wrest our Nation from the grip of Obama, the now thoroughly socialist Democrat Party and their Union cohorts. These fine Americans do whatever they can to aid the fight, writing, meeting, calling, voting, becoming Republican Precinct Committeemen… How ever they decide to join the fight, lets hope they don’t forget to pray. We need some clear weather.
“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.”
“If you love wealth more than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, depart from us in peace. We ask not your counsel nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. May your chains rest lightly upon you and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.”—Samuel Adams
Contributor to The Minority Report