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General Patton;s Prayer for Good-Weather during the War...

The True Story of The Patton Prayer

by Msgr. James H. O'Neill

(From the Review of the News 6 October 1971)

Many conflicting and some untrue stories have been printed about General George S. Patton and the Third Army Prayer. Some have had the tinge of blasphemy and disrespect for the Deity. Even in "War As I Knew It" by General Patton, the footnote on the Prayer by Colonel Paul D. Harkins, Patton's Deputy Chief of Staff, while containing the elements of a funny story about the General and his Chaplain, is not the true account of the prayer Incident or its sequence.

As the Chief Chaplain of the Third Army throughout the five campaigns on the Staff of General Patton, I should have some knowledge of the event because at the direction of General Patton I composed the now world famous Prayer, and wrote Training Letter No. 5, which constitutes an integral, but untold part, of the prayer story. These Incidents, narrated in sequence, should serve to enhance the memory of the man himself, and cause him to be enshrined by generations to come as one of the greatest of our soldiers. He had all the traits of military leadership, fortified by genuine trust in God, intense love of country, and high faith In the American soldier.

He had no use for half-measures. He wrote this line a few days before his death: "Anyone in any walk of life who is content with mediocrity is untrue to himself and to American tradition." He was true to the principles of his religion, Episcopalian, and was regular in Church attendance and practices, unless duty made his presence Impossible.

The incident of the now famous Patton Prayer commenced with a telephone call to the Third Army Chaplain on the morning of December 8, 1944, when the Third Army Headquarters were located in the Caserne Molifor in Nancy, France: "This is General Patton; do you have a good prayer for weather? We must do something about those rains if we are to win the war." My reply was that I know where to look for such a prayer, that I would locate, and report within the hour. As I hung up the telephone receiver, about eleven in the morning, I looked out on the steadily falling rain, "immoderate" I would call it -- the same rain that had plagued Patton's Army throughout the Moselle and Saar Campaigns from September until now, December 8. The few prayer books at hand contained no formal prayer on weather that might prove acceptable to the Army Commander. Keeping his immediate objective in mind, I typed an original and an improved copy on a 5" x 3" filing card:

Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies and establish Thy justice among men and nations.

I pondered the question, What use would General Patton make of the prayer? Surely not for private devotion. If he intended it for circulation to chaplains or others, with Christmas not far removed, it might he proper to type the Army Commander's Christmas Greetings on the reverse side. This would please the recipient, and anything that pleased the men I knew would please him:

To each officer and soldier in the Third United States Army, I Wish a Merry Christmas. I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. We march in our might to complete victory. May God's blessings rest upon each of you on this Christmas Day. G.S. Patton, Jr, Lieutenant General, Commanding, Third United States Army.

This done, I donned my heavy trench coat, crossed the quadrangle of the old French military barracks, and reported to General Patton. He read the prayer copy, returned it to me with a very casual directive, "Have 250,000 copies printed and see to it that every man in the Third Army gets one." The size of the order amazed me; this was certainly doing something about the weather in a big way. But I said nothing but the usual, "Very well, Sir!" Recovering, I invited his attention to the reverse side containing the Christmas Greeting, with his name and rank typed. "Very good," he said, with a smile of approval. "If the General would sign the card, it would add a personal touch that I am sure the men would like." He took his place at his desk, signed the card, returned it to me and then Said: "Chaplain, sit down for a moment; I want to talk to you about this business of prayer." He rubbed his face in his hands, was silent for a moment, then rose and walked over to the high window, and stood there with his back toward me as he looked out on the falling rain. As usual, he was dressed stunningly, and his six-foot-two powerfully built physique made an unforgettable silhouette against the great window. The General Patton I saw there was the Army Commander to whom the welfare of the men under him was a matter of Personal responsibility . Even in the heat of combat he could take time out to direct new methods to prevent trench feet, to see to it that dry socks went forward daily with the rations to troops on the line, to kneel in the mud administering morphine and caring for a wounded soldier until the ambulance Came. What was coming now?

"Chaplain, how much praying is being done in the Third Army?" was his question. I parried: "Does the General mean by chaplains, or by the men?" "By everybody," he replied. To this I countered: "I am afraid to admit it, but I do not believe that much praying is going on. When there Is fighting, everyone prays, but now with this constant rain -- when things are quiet, dangerously quiet, men just sit and wait for things to happen. Prayer out here is difficult. Both chaplains and men are removed from a special building with a steeple. Prayer to most of them is a formal, ritualized affair, involving special posture and a liturgical setting. I do not believe that much praying is being done."

The General left the window, and again seated himself at his desk, leaned back in his swivel chair, toying with a long lead pencil between his index fingers.

Chaplain, I am a strong believer in Prayer. There are three ways that men get what they want; by planning, by working, and by Praying. Any great military operation takes careful planning, or thinking. Then you must have well-trained troops to carry it out: that's working. But between the plan and the operation there is always an unknown. That unknown spells defeat or victory, success or failure. It is the reaction of the actors to the ordeal when it actually comes. Some people call that getting the breaks; I call it God. God has His part, or margin in everything, That's where prayer comes in. Up to now, in the Third Army, God has been very good to us. We have never retreated; we have suffered no defeats, no famine, no epidemics. This is because a lot of people back home are praying for us. We were lucky in Africa, in Sicily, and in Italy. Simply because people prayed. But we have to pray for ourselves, too. A good soldier is not made merely by making him think and work. There is something in every soldier that goes deeper than thinking or working--it's his "guts." It is something that he has built in there: it is a world of truth and power that is higher than himself. Great living is not all output of thought and work. A man has to have intake as well. I don't know what you it, but I call it Religion, Prayer, or God.

He talked about Gideon in the Bible, said that men should pray no matter where they were, in church or out of it, that if they did not pray, sooner or later they would "crack up." To all this I commented agreement, that one of the major training objectives of my office was to help soldiers recover and make their lives effective in this third realm, prayer. It would do no harm to re-impress this training on chaplains. We had about 486 chaplains in the Third Army at that time, representing 32 denominations. Once the Third Army had become operational, my mode of contact with the chaplains had been chiefly through Training Letters issued from time to time to the Chaplains in the four corps and the 22 to 26 divisions comprising the Third Army. Each treated of a variety of subjects of corrective or training value to a chaplain working with troops in the field. [Patton continued:]

I wish you would put out a Training Letter on this subject of Prayer to all the chaplains; write about nothing else, just the importance of prayer. Let me see it before you send it. We've got to get not only the chaplains but every man in the Third Army to pray. We must ask God to stop these rains. These rains are that margin that hold defeat or victory. If we all pray, it will be like what Dr. Carrel said [the allusion was to a press quote some days previously when Dr. Alexis Carrel, one of the foremost scientists, described prayer "as one of the most powerful forms of energy man can generate"], it will be like plugging in on a current whose source is in Heaven. I believe that prayer completes that circuit. It is power.

With that the General arose from his chair, a sign that the interview was ended. I returned to my field desk, typed Training Letter No. 5 while the "copy" was "hot," touching on some or all of the General's reverie on Prayer, and after staff processing, presented it to General Patton on the next day. The General read it and without change directed that it be circulated not only to the 486 chaplains, but to every organization commander down to and including the regimental level. Three thousand two hundred copies were distributed to every unit in the Third Army over my signature as Third Army Chaplain. Strictly speaking, it was the Army Commander's letter, not mine. Due to the fact that the order came directly from General Patton, distribution was completed on December 11 and 12 in advance of its date line, December 14, 1944. Titled "Training Letter No. 5," with the salutary "Chaplains of the Third Army," the letter continued: "At this stage of the operations I would call upon the chaplains and the men of the Third United States Army to focus their attention on the importance of prayer.

"Our glorious march from the Normandy Beach across France to where we stand, before and beyond the Siegfried Line, with the wreckage of the German Army behind us should convince the most skeptical soldier that God has ridden with our banner. Pestilence and famine have not touched us. We have continued in unity of purpose. We have had no quitters; and our leadership has been masterful. The Third Army has no roster of Retreats. None of Defeats. We have no memory of a lost battle to hand on to our children from this great campaign.

"But we are not stopping at the Siegfried Line. Tough days may be ahead of us before we eat our rations in the Chancellery of the Deutsches Reich.

"As chaplains it is our business to pray. We preach its importance. We urge its practice. But the time is now to intensify our faith in prayer, not alone with ourselves, but with every believing man, Protestant, Catholic, Jew, or Christian in the ranks of the Third United States Army.

"Those who pray do more for the world than those who fight; and if the world goes from bad to worse, it is because there are more battles than prayers. 'Hands lifted up,' said Bosuet, 'smash more battalions than hands that strike.' Gideon of Bible fame was least in his father's house. He came from Israel's smallest tribe. But he was a mighty man of valor. His strength lay not in his military might, but in his recognition of God's proper claims upon his life. He reduced his Army from thirty-two thousand to three hundred men lest the people of Israel would think that their valor had saved them. We have no intention to reduce our vast striking force. But we must urge, instruct, and indoctrinate every fighting man to pray as well as fight. In Gideon's day, and in our own, spiritually alert minorities carry the burdens and bring the victories.

"Urge all of your men to pray, not alone in church, but everywhere. Pray when driving. Pray when fighting. Pray alone. Pray with others. Pray by night and pray by day. Pray for the cessation of immoderate rains, for good weather for Battle. Pray for the defeat of our wicked enemy whose banner is injustice and whose good is oppression. Pray for victory. Pray for our Army, and Pray for Peace.

"We must march together, all out for God. The soldier who 'cracks up' does not need sympathy or comfort as much as he needs strength. We are not trying to make the best of these days. It is our job to make the most of them. Now is not the time to follow God from 'afar off.' This Army needs the assurance and the faith that God is with us. With prayer, we cannot fail.

"Be assured that this message on prayer has the approval, the encouragement, and the enthusiastic support of the Third United States Army Commander.

"With every good wish to each of you for a very Happy Christmas, and my personal congratulations for your splendid and courageous work since landing on the beach, I am," etc., etc., signed The Third Army Commander.

The timing of the Prayer story is important: let us rearrange the dates: the "Prayer Conference" with General Patton was 8 December; the 664th Engineer Topographical Company, at the order of Colonel David H. Tulley, C.E., Assistant to the Third Army Engineer, working night and day reproduced 250,000 copies of the Prayer Card; the Adjutant General, Colonel Robert S. Cummings, supervised the distribution of both the Prayer Cards and Training Letter No. 5 to reach the troops by December 12-14. The breakthrough was on December 16 in the First Army Zone when the Germans crept out of the Schnee Eifel Forest in the midst of heavy rains, thick fogs, and swirling ground mists that muffled sound, blotted out the sun, and reduced visibility to a few yards. The few divisions on the Luxembourg frontier were surprised and brushed aside. They found it hard to fight an enemy they could neither see nor hear. For three days it looked to the jubilant Nazis as if their desperate gamble would succeed. They had achieved compete surprise. Their Sixth Panzer Army, rejuvenated in secret after its debacle in France, seared through the Ardennes like a hot knife through butter. The First Army's VIII Corps was holding this area with three infantry divisions (one of them new and in the line only a few days) thinly disposed over an 88-mile front and with one armored division far to the rear, in reserve. The VIII Corps had been in the sector for months. It was considered a semi-rest area and outside of a little patrolling was wholly an inactive position.

When the blow struck the VIII Corps fought with imperishable heroism. The Germans were slowed down but the Corps was too shattered to stop them with its remnants. Meanwhile, to the north, the Fifth Panzer Army was slugging through another powerful prong along the vulnerable boundary between the VIII and VI Corps. Had the bad weather continued there is no telling how far the Germans might have advanced. On the 19th of December, the Third Army turned from East to North to meet the attack. As General Patton rushed his divisions north from the Saar Valley to the relief of the beleaguered Bastogne, the prayer was answered. On December 20, to the consternation of the Germans and the delight of the American forecasters who were equally surprised at the turn-about-the rains and the fogs ceased. For the better part of a week came bright clear skies and perfect flying weather. Our planes came over by tens, hundreds, and thousands. They knocked out hundreds of tanks, killed thousands of enemy troops in the Bastogne salient, and harried the enemy as he valiantly tried to bring up reinforcements. The 101st Airborne, with the 4th, 9th, and 10th Armored Divisions, which saved Bastogne, and other divisions which assisted so valiantly in driving the Germans home, will testify to the great support rendered by our air forces. General Patton prayed for fair weather for Battle. He got it.

It was late in January of 1945 when I saw the Army Commander again. This was in the city of Luxembourg. He stood directly in front of me, smiled: "Well, Padre, our prayers worked. I knew they would." Then he cracked me on the side of my steel helmet with his riding crop. That was his way of saying, "Well done."

(This article appeared as a government document in 1950. At the time it appeared in the Review of the News, Msgr. O'Neill was a retired Brigadier General living in Pueblo, Colorado.)



Join us in praying for our nation, that God will heal our land.
Click here to learn more about Billy Graham's Evangelistic Association

Prayer is the pillar of our faith and we are strengthen by coming to our Lord
.  Knowing that Jesus our Sovereign Eternal God is One in His Holy Trinity of His father, our Creator and His Holy Spirit, will do miracles in our lives….

Prayer is a divine way of communicating with our Father, knowing that we pray to our Father our Creator through Jesus our Mediator who intercedes on our behalf as Jesus is our High Priest and as our Sovereign God in one of Father, Son and Holy Spirit; because HE said no one comes to the father unless through Him…. While we pray without any man-made device, this is a super-natural event that we can acknowledge by our Lord’s promise that He would send His Holy Spirit to be with us.  When we walk and seek our Lord, we are always guided through the shadow of the Valley of death, fear and turmoil of this world, knowing that His Shadow of Mercies is always close to those that seek our Lord.

We are to boldly come to our Lord knowing that He said we are to do this as He said…

John 14:6 (New King James Version (NKJV)

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me”.

  As we read in John 14:16, Our Lord Jesus the Son of God; said He will intercede to His Father on our behalf… Jesus Son of God prays to His Father to send us another advocate (His Holy Spirit) The Holy Spirit He sends will be with us forever. 

We are also reminded in 1 Timothy 2 ‘Instructions on Worship’  

1. I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – 

2. for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

3. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 

4: who wants all people to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth. 

5: For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 

6: who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.  

Therefore; ‘Let us hold unswervingly to the Hope we profess, for He who promised (Jesus) is Faithful. "I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee."  Isaiah 44:22 KJV

Prayer Requests:

Luke 6: 12  One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God

Our Prayer requests are:

º Pray for our leaders in Government, both in Washington and in each and every municipalities, especially as we approach the upcoming election, and let the politicians be truthful and come to serve the nation with a clean hand.

º Pray for the familes in each and every states especially those with young children and for them to have our Lord's blessings and His provisions during these times of changes and many are facing financial difficulties and ask our Lord's blessing upon them for their spiritual and personal needs.

º Pray for those that are facing financial distress, especially those with children in our community, in these difficult times of our nation, those that are seeking jobs and those that are sick and especially those that need to find our Lord and come to Him and let their needs be met. 

º Pray for our Lord to send an abundance of resources to places like the Miami Rescue Mission® and the Dream Center® in Los Angeles, as these places of refuge are also a place of Redemption creating re-generated wholesome people for our Lord, and pray for the leaders and staff as they render good stewardship in helping others, life is a challenge for many. May the Blessing of our Lord and Savior Jesus The Christ be upon them...

º Pray for our Public Schools and especially for the School Boards that there will be a new dawning in America for our Youth... and pray that the liberty of freedom of speech and Worship prevail with our Lord as the foundation of these institutions of learning... pray that the presence of God be in their midst.
 
º Pray for the work of Bible Study Fellowship® (www.bsfinternational.org) and ask our Lord to bless BSF remembering the passing of their beloved Chairman, Dr. Hastings, (Read more about in our News section. Pray for BSF's global outreach of this ministry now playing a vital role in many parts of the world. Pray for BSF in China, India and many large pupulation centers that BSF is gaining memberships and bringing new leaders to Christ. Pray for BSF® to be favored and be provided the resources to continue God's work.

º Pray for our favorite Servant of the Most High God... Billy Graham and may our Lord continue to favor him and let him continue to be a torch bearer for our Lord, and pray for protection and blessings upon Franklin as he continues his extensive agenda in Samaritan's Purse® and BGEA® doing the work of our Lord. 

We hope that 2012 will be full of Joy and the year will be full of God's Blessing for you. Let us remember the many organizations serving our Lord, BGEA®, Samaritan's Purse®,  YFC®, TBN®, The Salvation Army®, Campus Crusade®, The Navigators®, and the many children's projects around the world, continue to pray and to remember to continue to pray for the  well being of of brothers and sisters and their families. Bear in mind whatever you do for these organization you do it for our Lord...  God Bless.

Prayer is the source of Power given to us by our Lord to seek HIM.
Are you facing a Giant today,? Our Lord can make a way for you to over come it and be victorious... Praise our Lord Jesus for He is Faithful.


Matthew 6: NIV

Jesus taught us how to pray

7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

   9 “This, then, is how you should pray:

   “‘Our Father in heaven, 
hallowed be your name, 
10 your kingdom come, 
your will be done, 
   on earth as it is in heaven. 
11 Give us today our daily bread. 
12 And forgive us our debts, 
   as we also have forgiven our debtors. 
13 And lead us not into temptation, 
   but deliver us from the evil one.’

   14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Philippians 4: 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

We need to focus on the positive more and still remember the negative results of sins. Our Lord is saying in HIS Prayer “   “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”… He was telling us while we are here the following will apply:

He (Jesus) is as powerful here on earth as He is in Heaven

He will supply our needs here while we are here on earth

He will protect from evil, by us trusting and knowing Him

As Christians we need to emphasize the following:

The Positive aspects of following our Lord Jesus, as He is Holy

The Joy that He provides by His words of Assurance

The Victory we have in Him

The satisfaction of spreading His Good news to others, as we spread His fragrance we also receive His blessings too.

We are to tear down the barriers to achieve the secret of satisfaction in coming to Jesus and fellowship in Christ in Oneness; knowing that we can find the fulfillment of all our needs in fellowship with God.

We thank our Lord Jesus for His Faithfulness and for His unspeakable gift.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 NIV 

Principle:  Humbleness and Meekness shall triumph over pride and the boastful ones will be debased.  Pride Debases those that boast and put their trust in money and earthly things…. Correct Living is rooted in Christ    Pride displaces God from the heart in favor of Self 

Hebrews 10:23 New International Version (NIV) 
23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
  † 
Let us not judge others, and remembering that forgiveness is the first step towards building a relationship among each others.  To be less self centered and Christ Centered 

We read...The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: "God, I thank you that I am not like other men--robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector." - Luke 18:11 

Looking at such a prayer, we need to be less 'self-centered' and more 'Christ-Centered' as our Lord while on the cross, simply said... "Father forgive them for they know not what they do". Remember also as Jesus said while on the cross, "It is Finished" several events took place... Earthquakes, the Sun went dark for 3 Hours, the Curtain in the Temple was Torn,  It should be noted that the Curtain was replaced by HIS NEW COVENANT, by HIS ULTIMATE SACRIFICE; and Jesus became our HIGH PRIEST! And... knowing that Jesus our Redeemer ascended to Heaven and sits on the Throne of Righteousness, and HE intercedes on our behalf as our Advocate, as our High Priest.  

What a privilege He gave us to be able to come to Him. Hebrews 7:25..."Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him (Jesus) , because He always lives to intercede for them.(Hebrews 7:25 NIV) 

Posted August 25, 2012
Thank You Lord for saving my beloved that went home to you Lord Jesus two years to this day. I  Praise You Lord and look to that day when we shall be reunited in Your Holy presence Lord. In Your precious name Lord Jesus we Pray Amen.