Posted by: sean | December 16, 2007

Should Christians Pray for Millitary Victory? (2)

An Inquiry into the Accordancy of War with the Principles of Christianity by Jonathan Dymond (1869) pgs 62-63

It is the custom, during the continuance of a war, to offer public prayers for the success of our arms; and our enemies pray also for the success of theirs. I will acknowledge that this practice appears to me to be eminently shocking and profane. The idea of two communities of Christians, separated perhaps by a creek, at the same moment begging their common Father to assist them in reciprocal destruction is an idea of horror to which I know no parallel. “Lord, assist us to slaughter our enemies.” This is our petition. “Father, forgive them; they know not what they do.” This is the petition of Christ.

It is certain that of two contending communities, both cannot be in the right. Yet both appeal to Heaven to avouch the justice of their cause, and both mingle with their petitions for the increase perhaps, of Christian dispositions, importunities to the God of mercy to assist them in the destruction of one another. Taking into account the ferocity of the request–the solemnity of its circumstances–the falsehood of its representations–the fact that both parties are Christians and that their importunities are simultaneous to their common Lord–I do not think that the world exhibits another example of such irreverent and shocking iniquity. Surely it would be enough that we slaughter one another alone in our pigmy quarrels, without soliciting the Father of the universe to be concerned in them. Surely it would be enough that each reviles the other with the iniquity of his cause, without each assuring Heaven that he only is in the right–an assurance that is false, probably in both cases, and certainly in one.

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Responses

  1. Wow. This would certainly cause one to stand out in most Christian circles today. Perhaps that is not a bad thing.

    I Timothy 2:1-4 – First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

    That’s the perspective, and that’s the goal

  2. If war is wrong, we shouldn’t want victory in war But the fact that two Christians may pray for opposing things not only doesn’t mean that the “more right” (for even in matters not concerning war, our prayers our not perfect) should not pray, it doesn’t even mean that the “less right” person should not pray. I’ve been taught that God wants us to come to him in our imperfection… so that any genuine prayer is good. That isn’t the same as saying that we should assume God is “on our side” because we are petitioning him.

  3. Dee, So glad to have you on the site. On the subject of praying for military victory, see this satire written by Mark Twain. It well expresses the insanity of such a petition. I would also point out that we are commanded by Jesus to pray for our enemies.

    Matthew 5:44 “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

    Luke 6:27-28 “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

    What would it be like if someone prayed for God’s protection over the Iraqi soldiers so that they would be able to survive war against America and be able to one day hear the gospel and repent? Americans have access to the gospel, but millions of Muslims have never encountered the Christian gospel.

  4. Sean, I am glad that you raised those verses, that’s what came to my mind as well. I often hear people pray for the America soldiers they know, or in general and God’s protection of them. Even if we set aside what we might think this means or whether or not these prayers should be prayed…Jesus specifically speaks about praying for your enemies and yet I rarely hear prayers offered in that way!

    The few times that I have heard people pray for their personal or national enemies, it always has really hit my heart…I have heard love and compassion in the prayers offered and it stood out to me as genuinely Christian. We should follow our Lord’s example, especially when it comes to things specifically spoken of in Scripture…then we can work on figuring out these other things next!


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