"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth." — (Psalm 60:4)
"Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them." — (Isaiah 13:2)
Devoted To The Defense Of The Church Against All Errors And Innovations
Vol.VII No.I Pg.1
Septermber 1944

Prayer During War

R. L. Whiteside

Prayer For Victory

All prayers must be conditioned on "the will of God." Even Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane prayed: "Not what I will, but what thou wilt." (Mark 14:36.) Jesus taught his disciples to pray: "Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth." (Matt. 6: 10.) No prayer should be offered today except on the condition that God's will be done. Our will must be brought into subjection to the will of God, and we need not pray if we are not wanting God's will to be done.

-H. Leo Boles, in Gospel. Advocate, July 27th, 1944.

Here two passages of scripture are so used as to show that the writer thought they presented the same idea. Will the reader look again at the two passages, and see if there is any ground for using them as the writer does? In the model prayer, Jesus taught his disciples to pray that men here in this world would do God's will as it is done in heaven. In the Garden Jesus did not pray that people here in this world would do God's will. In fact the writer thoughtlessly misrepresents what Jesus said in Gethsemane, when he says that Jesus prayed, "not what I will, but what thou wilt." The fact is, Jesus prayed, "Remove this cup from me." Jesus was a mysterious combination of Deity and humanity. His humanity dreaded suffering. He prayed that he might be spared the suffering of the cross: "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass away from me." That was his desire-that was his prayer. But he would not be rebellious; he would submit to God's plans and purposes concerning him. "Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt." In this statement he was expressing his willingness to submit to God's will. It is folly to think he was praying for God to go on and put into execution his own plans and purposes. Will any thoughtful person pray for God to do whatever he wills to do? though he may, as Jesus did, express his submission to God's will.

In many prayers it would be entirely out of place to add, "if it be thy will." Does that startle you? Then think a little. You pray that sinners be converted, but you do not add, "if it be thy will." Why not? A wayward child of God comes in penitence, confessing his sins.; you pray for God to forgive him, and you pray that he may become strong in the Lord, but you do not add, "if it be thy will." In such prayers, to add, "if it be thy will," would imply that you did not know whether he was willing for sinners to be converted or for his penitent child to be forgiven! But every person desires many things. A Christian will not desire anything that he knows to be wrong. If it is right to desire a thing, it is right to ask for it. If a Christian earnestly desires a thing, he will pray for it, even though he knows that God's will must prevail in the matter, and this brings us to the following from the same editorial:

Someone has said: "We ought not to pray for victory, but that we may be worthy of victory." If one prays to be worthy of victory, does he not assume that God will give victory, and is not a prayer for victory implicit in that kind of prayer? One should be specific and not evade or merely imply. No one will ever be worthy of the richest blessings of God. Jacob prayed to Jehovah and said: "I am not worthy of the least of all the loving kindness, and of all the truth, which thou hast showed unto thy servant." (Gen. 32: 10.). This is true of everyone who prays. We are not worthy of the least of God's blessings. We may pray that we may use victory in a way well pleasing to God.

But Brother Boles does not say plainly whether he would, or would not, pray for victory, but he seems to imply that he would not pray for victory, and that also implies that he does not desire victory, and does not care who will be the victor. If this is not his attitude, he can tell us plainly what his attitude is. I would be glad to see him free himself of any such unsavory position. But what is wrong with praying for victory? If a man desires it, he will naturally pray for it. If it makes no difference to a man who wins, he will pray for neither side to win; but if he cares not who wins the victory, he will be in poor position to use the victory to any advantage. The people who through "sweat, and blood, and tears," won the victory, would not care to listen to any man who did not care whether or not they gained or lost the victory.

Then note carefully this sentence from the same editorial: "It seems that parents and others may pray for our boys' and for others that the war may come to a just conclusion and our loved ones returned home." "A just conclusion"! With the ideas entertained by Brother Boles and others, I do not see how they can think that any conclusion arrived at by force of arms can be a just conclusion. And if, as these brethren think, our boys in the army are killers and murderers, why would they pray for them to be returned to us? Will they pray for this country to be filled with men whom they consider murderers and killers? Yes, I desire victory for this country, and pray for it; and yet I know the final disposing of all things rests with the Lord.

And finally, is there not a prayer for victory as plainly implied in the prayer "that we may use victory in a way well pleasing to God" as there is in a prayer that we may be worthy of victory?