In the midst of World War II, Alfred A. Knopf published the Soldiers’ & Sailors’ Prayer Book, with contributions from such prominent generals as Dwight D. Eisenhower, George S. Patton, and Mark W. Clark. But many of the prayers were penned by lesser lights, and some were anonymous. In the case of the following prayer, the editors give only the name of Navy Chaplain Frank R. Hamilton, listing neither rank nor wartime theater.
Though the prayer concerns the challenge of literal combat, it resonates with those in the pastorate, for spiritual warfare is very real in that context. Thus, the pastor who adopts a prophetic voice can take heart from Hamilton’s prayer, for it covers his daunting tasks as well. He too needs supernatural provision for courage as a “soldier of the Cross.”
Eternal God, our Father, Thou who art the Commander-in-Chief of all stalwart soldiers of the Cross, grant unto us who would follow in his train some measure of that courage and fortitude with which our Lord endured and won His victory. Faced with the challenges of anxiety and hardship, called upon to meet danger and peril, summoned to duties and tasks seemingly beyond our strength and ability, we feel the need of Thy power and grace.
Light the flame of courage on the altar of our hearts; lift us from hesitance and doubt to a new daring and trust, that in hours of stress and strife we may never be wanting. Where duty calls, or danger, support and sustain us, that we may stand in Thy strength, numbered among those who overcome. In the midst of trial and conflict, let our endeavors reflect the manhood of the Master, who met the onset of life calmly and confidently and so was triumphant over pain. Whatever the issues confronting us, strengthen our hands and fortify our spirits in the confidence which led Him to triumphant victory.1
In his Name we pray. Amen.
1 Frank R. Hamilton, “For Fortitude,” in Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Prayer Book, ed. Gerald Mygatt and Henry Darlington (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1944), 87.