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General George Patton: Men and Women of Faith

World War II is often thought of as one of the world’s worst times in history: oppression and mass slaughter of a people, country against country, and the death of many millions of people. Yet, in the midst of it, we see that despite this horrible time in our history, there were still men and women of faith who prayed to that Holy One, our God. 

October 1944 found General S. Patton in the midst of what was no doubt one of the most difficult times of his life, World War II. He was determined to take the French city of Metz which would allow his army to push into Germany, possibly bringing about the end of the war. However, as Patton said, the Allies were not just fighting the Germans, they were also fighting time and the weather. Rain had been constant and forceful, greatly affecting, as Patton knew, the playing field in a battle. 

And so Patton completed his preparations for battle and then turned to the only two other weapons he knew: his Bible and prayer. His journal entry that day says,
“I know of nothing more I can do to prepare for this attack except to read the Bible and pray…"
I am sure we will have great success…I know the Lord will help us again. Either He will give us good weather or the bad weather will hurt the Germans more than it does us. His Will Be Done.”

The campaign was a success. Within a month, Patton and his army had freed 873 towns from German rule. 

A short two months later, Patton set his sights on crossing the Rhine River, a difficult obstacle in pushing further into German territory. Yet, the weather was still formidable and so General Patton commissioned a prayer to be sent out on cards with a short Christmas message to all of his soldiers. The prayer said this, 

“Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush oppression and wicked of our enemies, and establish Thy justice among men and nations. Amen.” 

General Patton then had a conversation with the chaplain who penned the message. And while there is much more to the conversation, for the sake of time, I’ve simply included experts that show how much General Patton believed in prayer. 

“I am afraid to admit it, but I do not believe that much praying is going on. When there is fighting, everyone prays, but now with this constant rain—when things are quiet, dangerously quiet, men just sit and wait for things to happen. Prayer out here is difficult. Both chaplains and men are removed from a special building with a steeple. Prayer to most of them is a formal, ritualized affair, involving special posture and a liturgical setting. I do not believe that much praying is being done…Chaplain, I am a strong believer in Prayer…God has His part, or margin, in everything. That’s where prayer comes in. Up to now, in the Third Army, God has been very good to us. We have never retreated; we have suffered no defeats, no famine, no epidemics. This is because a lot of people back home are praying for us.” 

The day after the prayer was issued, the weather cleared for six days, allowing the Allies to fight in what was arguably one of the most impactful battles of the war, the Battle of the Bulge. 

General Patton was a man with an incredible amount of responsibility on his shoulders, yet he knew, as far too few men in his position have, where to turn for the help he needed. May we, like General Patton, turn to the One True Source of Help in our country’s time of need. 

A Prayer for Healing: Answered Prayer Series


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