Mark Twain’s Prayer

I found this “prayer” today while writing the chapter of my book on Jesus’ blessing of the peace makers in Matthew 5.  I won’t be able to use any of this, too far outside the scope of my chapter, but I wish I could.  I wish I could if book readers could talk back to me about it.  That’s the bad thing about books: When words provoke a feeling or thought or action, you can’t turn to the author and tell him about it and have him turn back to you and say “you’re full of it” or “me too” or “tell me more.” So, I’ll post this here instead.  What does this passage make you feel, think, or want to do?  I might even tell you you’re full of it or exactly right or ask you to tell me more.

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

~Mark Twain

The War Prayer

(Written during the Philippine-American War)