I’ve been thinking lately about the role of God and our government, God in our dealings with the government and God on the battlefield. I’m constantly reminded of God’s sense of humor when I see news items chronicling the ironic snowstorm at Copenhagen during the global warming summit. Or seemingly following Al Gore around like the rain cloud over Charlie Brown, only with Al, it’s a blizzard.

Nor does it pass me by that our own congress has been stifled of late first by the passing away of Senator Kennedy followed by the election of Scott Brown(R) then the death of Congressman Murtha. (Please don’t count me as callous to the families of these men, however it cannot be denied that they were valuable to the Progressive cause.) The timing of these deaths and the subsequent onslaught of snow storms which in effect shut down the Washington machine for the past weeks might be brushed aside as coincidence but I don’t think so. And while I don’t claim to know God’s mind in the timing of the late Senator’s or Congressman’s passing, they are surely blows to the advancement of the social engineering programs that the Progressives have proposed since the Obama administration and majority Democrats took office.

I contend that the reasons these programs have hit a wall are because of the TEA Party’s and Independents’ activism, prayer, and God. One cannot deny that the TEA Party has had a tremendous effect on the political climate (pun intended) in America. Along with the activism, I speculate that there has been an increased amount of prayer for our country and our leaders. God has heard our cries and acted.

God is already in our politics whether we acknowledge or recognize his presence or not. Those of us who believe in a supreme being are already convinced of his involvement in the affairs of government. The question to us is not “whether”, it is “to what degree” and that to me, is the larger issue. The way I see it, God associates himself positively with a country as much as the country’s people align themselves with his standards. The problem here in the US is, as a nation we have been disassociating ourselves with God and his standards for quite some time. This does not bode well. (I love using terms I don’t fully understand like “bode”. – “bodkin” is another but one doesn’t find much use for “bodkin” these days. I did sneak it in here by discussing the word though didn’t I? See how that works?) (Bodkin.)

All joking aside, several instances of God’s direct involvement in major human events come to mind. Joshua’s army surrounding the city of Jericho and it’s walls crushed by a mighty war cry is one. There are other Biblical examples but more recently, in the last century, I think of Patton’s Third Army at Bastogne and the prayer the General requested be written by Chaplain Msgr. James H. O’Neill for better weather conditions.

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.

This prayer was not only spoken by Gen. Patton as the movie portrays, It was passed out on small placards to all 250,000 in the Third Army. With it was included a Christmas greeting and to the Chaplains, “Training Letter No. 5”, an encouragement for the troops to pray without ceasing. How amazing and seemingly contradictory that a General in the US Army would instruct his troops to pray. This man knew the power of God. He also knew that the war was still on the tipping point.

The Christmas greeting read thus:

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 giving approval for the prayer and greeting, the General then inquired about how much the soldiers were praying. Not just the chaplains and clergy but the soldiers themselves. After being told how little time the troops were spending in prayer, Patton directed that this Training Letter be written and distributed to the 3200 chaplains under his command:

December 14, 1944. Titled “Training Letter No. 5,” with the salutary “Chaplains of the Third Army,” the letter continued: “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.

With every good wish to each of you for a very Happy Christmas, and my personal congratulations for your splendid and courageous work since landing on the beach, I am,” etc., etc., signed The Third Army Commander.

I think we all know how it turned out. You’re not reading this in German and I’m here to write it.

The point is, as Gen. Patton believed, prayer does work. Our prayers are working. God is indeed on our side. Or better put might be, “We are returning to God’s side.”

We are soldiers in the fight to restore America to her Founding Principles, to One Nation Under God. I pray we continue on that path.

For the full story of Gen. Patton’s prayer from the man who wrote it and lived it go to:

Update: Washington Rebel gives a link and a compliment. Thank you.

[Originally posted here February 15, 2010]

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