At the conclusion of the service, someone found a scrap of paper on one of the pews of the church, and on that scrap of paper was the prayer of an unknown soldier. Among other things, the soldier prayed, “God, please help me to be a man. Our Father in heaven, I come to you in humility, asking forgiveness for all my sins and all my faults. Be pleased to grant, I pray, what I am about to ask of Thee: Please God, cause this terrible conflict to end soon; hasten the day when we can once again live in peace, happiness, and harmony with our brothers in the world. Bless my wife, and keep her safe from all harm; bless Mother, and make her well again, bless Dad, and keep and protect him; and bless all the earth’s inhabitants.
“Dear Lord, I know I am not worthy of Thee, but please help me to be a man. Grant me the wisdom and the courage and the strength I need ... for all the days to come. Bless the minister and all who worship here. I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, who gave His life so that we might have eternal life. Amen.”
The soldier’s prayer reminds me of David’s prayer when he prayed, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Thy loving-kindness; according unto the multitude of Thy tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin, for I acknowledge my transgressions; and my sin is ever before me. Against Thee, Thee only have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight ... Behold, I was shaped in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Hide Thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation; and uphold me with Thy free spirit.”
MacDonald Clarke said, “Death to a good man, is but passing through a dark entry, out of one little dusty room of the Father’s house, into another room that is fair and large, lightsome and glorious, and divinely entertaining. Just remember that the one you have loved is not lost, just moved from these shores of sand and stone. They have gone to live in a place prepared for them, where hearts never ache and there is never a sigh. The one I loved is not dead, she has only moved to that place not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
Every morning pray for someone you know that has a heavy burden. You never know how far a prayer can go.
The weary one had rest, the sad had joy that day and wondered how. A ploughman singing at his work had prayed, “Lord, help them now.” Away in foreign lands they wondered how their feeble words had power. At home the Christians, two or three, had met to pray an hour. Yes, we are always wondering, wondering how, because we do not see, Someone, unknown perhaps, and far away, on bended knee.
Robert V. Ozment is a retired United Methodist minister.