Mark Twain
on War

In 1905, Mark Twain wrote the following to express the horrible implications of praying to God for military victory.

The story is set in a small church where the preacher has eloquently asked for God to watch over our noble young soldiers and help them to crush the foe.

A stranger stands up, and addresses the congregation:

"Is this one single prayer? No, it is two, one uttered, the other not. If you would ask a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon your neighbor at the same time.

When you pray for victory you pray for many unmentioned results which follow victory. Listen!"
O Lord, as our young patriots go forth to battle - be near them! With them we also go forth - in spirit - 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 fields with their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of 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 innocent widows with grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, under 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 but 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.
(edited by David Van Alstyne)
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