Christmas Message from Wartime
December 1944 was a key time during WWII. D-Day was over, and the Allied forces were moving forward rapidly, pushing the Nazis out of western Europe and back into Germany. But in mid-December, the Germans began an unexpected assault against the Americans, resulting in the six-week long Battle of the Bulge high in the mountains in the middle of winter. Extended bad weather (days of fog, snow, and torrential rain) grounded American airplanes and hindered the movement of American troops.
The forces of General George Patton were taking the brunt of the attack. On December 8th, Patton contacted his top chaplain, General James O'Neill, and asked for a prayer to change the weather . Patton explained:
God has His part, or margin in everything, that's where prayer comes in. . . . 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.
Chaplain O'Neill responded to Patton's request by writing out a short prayer that was approved and printed and given to each of the 250,000 American soldiers. Each man prayed:
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.
The reverse of the card carried a Christmas greeting from Patton:
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.
These prayer cards were distributed to the troops on December 12-14, and on December 20th, the weather cleared, allowing the planes to return to the air, leading to an eventual hard-fought victory for the Allies.
As we celebrate Christmas with our families, history reminds us that God responds when people lift up their voices in prayer.
From all of us at WallBuilders, Merry Christmas!