Monday, November 17, 2014

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NKJV)   “Rejoice always,  pray without ceasing,  in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

In December 1944, on the Eve of the German offensive that came to be known as the “Battle of the Bulge” (not to be confused with Pastor Steve’s constant battle to meet Air Force weight standards), General George Patton was preparing his own battle plans for crossing the Rhine River into Germany.   The date for the attack by Patton’s U.S. 3rd Army was set for Dec. 19th but foul weather threatened to postpone the attack.

Patton phoned the senior Chaplain of the Third Army, Chaplain James H. O’Neill.  He asked Chaplain O’Neill if he had a good prayer to be used to ask for good weather.  Searching through his prayer book he was not able to find such a prayer so Chaplain O’Neill wrote out his own prayer as follows:
“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.”

When General Patton read the prayer he ordered that “250,000 copies be printed and see to it that every man in the Third Army gets one.”

For those who have read histories of World War II it is known that General Patton was famous for his regular use of profanities and gruff style of leadership.  However, even Patton knew some things that many of our current political and military leaders could learn greatly from.  Here is another quote from Patton to Chaplain O’Neill:

 “Chaplain, I am a strong believer in Prayer,” said Patton. “There are three ways that 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. It is the reaction of the actors to the ordeal when it actually comes. Some people call that getting the breaks; I call it God. God has His part in everything. That’s where prayer comes in.”

Patton said that “men should pray no matter where they were, in church or out of it, that if they did not pray, sooner or later they would “crack up.” “We must ask God to stop these rains. These rains are that margin that hold defeat or victory. If we all pray…it will be like plugging in on a current whose source is in Heaven. I believe that prayer completes that circuit. It is power,” said Patton.
The Prayer Card, with a Christmas Greeting printed on the reverse side was sent to all of his troops.
Two days later the Americans armies in Europe would find themselves engaged in the “Battle of the Bulge”.  Rather than attacking across the Rhine, Patton’s 3rd Army was called on to hit the German army on its flank to stop their attack.  This battle turned out to be the largest battle any American force has ever engaged in.  What was the result of the General and his 3rd Army praying?
Patton’s adjutant noted “on the twenty-third, the day after the prayer was issued, the weather cleared and remained perfect for about six days. Enough to allow the Allies to break the backbone of the German offensive and turn a temporary setback into a crushing defeat for the enemy.”
As for Chaplain O’Neill Patton greeted him with “Chaplain, you’re the most popular man in this Headquarters. You sure stand in good with the Lord and the soldiers.” The general then pinned a Bronze Star Medal on Chaplain O’Neill.

Proverbs 3:5-6New King James Version (NKJV)
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.