“Lord help me to live from day to day
In such a self forgetful way
That even when I kneel to pray
My prayer may be for others.”
During the American civil war, a young Union soldier was court-martialed,
Charged with sleeping while on outpost duty in the immediate presence of the enemy.
Such an offense ranked alongside desertion in the presence of the enemy and carried a death sentence. If found guilty, the boy could expect to be shot out of hand.
He was paraded before his colonel and senior officers and the charge read out. The C. O. looked him over, then asked, “What have you got to say for yourself, Soldier?”
“If the Colonel pleases, I wasn’t asleep, I was praying.”
“Praying, were you?”
“Yes sir.” For a moment the colonel paused, then came back. “Very good! Get down on your knees, here and now, where you stand, and pray!”
“Sir!” And the boy knelt, folded his hands, bowed his head, and prayed. He commenced by thanking his Father in heaven for being an approachable God, ready to listen to His followers at any and every occasion; for being a loving and prayer-answering God; for being interested in the small matters of a Christian’s life. Then his theme switched tracks. He prayed for his great young country, the United States of America, with such a promising future, split by a bitter and savage Civil War. (Parenthetically, there were cases where twin brothers fought on opposite sides!) He prayed for President Lincoln, and his cabinet: for heaven’s wisdom in their decisions, that the blood shed be kept to a minimum. He prayed for the general officers, for their guidance in campaigns and battles that the human wastage be minimized. He remembered families already bereft of fathers, husbands, sons, brothers: those in the south facing actual starvation; for the armies as wholes; for his own regiment; his own company; for their preservation in the fighting to come’ for the wounded and their speedy recovery. And at last for the rebuilding of the Nation with Secession and slavery gone forever. Never a word about himself, the charge he faced, the possibility of an early impending death.
While he prayed, suddenly the sergeant of the Guard “uncovered”-removed his campaign hat. He was followed by the rest of the guard, then the officers, then, finally the Colonel. The Presence of Superior “Rank” could not be denied. The boy ended with another word of thanks, stood, and came to attention. “Sir!”
While he had been praying, a party of soldiers was passing, returning to camp after visiting the paymaster and the rum shop, in that order. They were creating considerable raucous racket, but as they neared the C. O.’s tent, they were greeted with a barrage of savage hisses, and “sh-shs” with fingers on lips. They paused and came over to see what was happening. Similar events soon had a sizeable crowd of on-lookers; one and all campaign hats came off and the “observers” stood bare-headed-seeming that like Moses four thousand years before, they were in Divine Company.
Presently the Colonel replaced his hat and announced, “This court finds that the soldier was NOT sleeping; He WAS praying. Discharged. Return to duty!”….
Prayer is a life-saver, both here and now and the hereafter. Only this afternoon I have been reading of the praying of th144,000 will be sending heaven ward during the final tremendous struggle. I was heartened to read of this last prayer-session being compared to that of Christ in Gethsemane. He won that engagement. With heaven’s aid, His faithful ones will win the final battle—the victory which forever dooms sin, sinners and the author of sin, the devil.
“Communion with Christ, how unspeakably precious! Such communion it is our privilege to enjoy if we will seek it, if we will make any sacrifice to secure it.”
“Pray as you never prayed before that you may not be deluded by Satan’s devices.”
“Prayer is the Creator of the soul, the channel of all blessings.”
It is secret communion with God that sustains the soul life.”
Maranatha 74, 149, 85, 87