The War Prayer by Mark Twain

S.L. Clemens (Mark Twain)

S.L. Clemens (Mark Twain) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


013_13Copy (6) of 001_1Mark Twain wrote of war with a honest pen. Please read this old poem. His words still ring strong today. Ask a old Soldier. Was there great honor in war? The answer will surprise you. We must protect our borders. We cannot save the world and make them live in peace with each other. If the world want to be saved? The people in their countries would stop the violence and find the way to peace.The War
by Mark Twain
a.k.a. Samuel Clemens



It was a time of great
and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every
breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing,
the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and sputtering; on every
hand and far down the receding and fading spreads of roofs and balconies a fluttering
wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down
the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers
and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion
as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot
oratory which stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts and which they interrupted
at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their
cheeks the while; in the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country
and invoked the God of Battles, beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpouring
of fervid eloquence which moved every listener.

It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured
to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straightway got
such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety’s sake they quickly
shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.

Sunday morning came-next day the battalions would leave for the front; the church
was filled; the volunteers were there, their faces alight with material dreams-visions
of a stern advance, the gathering momentum, the rushing charge, the flashing sabers,
the flight of the foe, the tumult, the enveloping smoke, the fierce pursuit, the
surrender!-then home from the war, bronzed heros, welcomed, adored, submerged
in golden seas of glory! With the volunteers sat their dear ones, proud, happy,
and envied by the neighbors and friends who had no sons and brothers to send forth
to the field of honor, there to win for the flag or, failing, die the noblest
of noble deaths. The service proceeded; a war chapter from the Old Testament was
read; the first prayer was said; it was followed by an organ burst that shook
the building, and with one impulse the house rose, with glowing eyes and beating
hearts, and poured out that tremendous invocation — “God the all-terrible!
Thou who ordainest, Thunder thy clarion and lightning thy sword!”

Then came the “long” prayer. None could remember the like of it for
passionate pleading and moving and beautiful language. The burden of its supplication
was that an ever–merciful and benignant Father of us all would watch over our
noble young soldiers and aid, comfort, and encourage them in their patriotic work;
bless them, shield them in His mighty hand, make them strong and confident, invincible
in the bloody onset; help them to crush the foe, grant to them and to their flag
and country imperishable honor and glory –

An aged stranger entered and moved with slow and noiseless step up the main aisle,
his eyes fixed upon the minister, his long body clothed in a robe that reached
to his feet, his head bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to
his shoulders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to ghastliness. With
all eyes following him and wondering, he made his silent way; without pausing,
he ascended to the preacher’s side and stood there, waiting.

With shut lids the preacher, unconscious of his presence, continued his moving
prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in fervent appeal,”Bless
our arms, grant us the victory, O Lord our God, Father and Protector of our land
and flag!”

The stranger touched his arm, motioned him to step aside — which the startled
minister did — and took his place. During some moments he surveyed the spellbound
audience with solemn eyes in which burned an uncanny light; then in a deep voice
he said

“I come from the Throne-bearing a message from Almighty God!” The words
smote the house with a shock; if the stranger perceived it he gave no attention.
“He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd and grant it if such
shall be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained to you its import-that
is to say, its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in
that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of-except he pause and think.

“God’s servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused and taken thought?
Is it one prayer? No, it is two- one uttered, the other not. Both have reached
the ear of His Who hearth all supplications, the spoken and the unspoken. Ponder
this-keep it in mind. If you beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without
intent you invoke a curse upon a neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the
blessing of rain upon your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying
for a curse upon some neighbor’s crop which may not need rain and can be injured
by it.

“You have heard your servant’s prayer-the uttered part of it. I am commissioned
by God to put into words the other part of it-that part which the pastor, and
also you in your hearts, fervently prayed silently. And ignorantly and unthinkingly?
God grant that it was so! You heard these words: ‘Grant us the victory, O Lord
our God!’ That is sufficient. The whole of the uttered prayer is compact into
those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for
victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory-must
follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God the Father
fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words.

“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 their 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 ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset
and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.

(After a pause)

“Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! The messenger of the Most
High waits.”

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