In our daily devotional time, Dennis and I have been reading a spiritual classic: Harry Emerson Fosdick’s The Meaning of Prayer (1915). We are reading a chapter called “Prayer as a Dominant Desire,” and we were both amazed at the coincidence that the reading for today—Veterans’ Day—included the prayer below. It was written by Walter Rauschenbusch, an American theologian who was born just after the Civil War began and died just before World War I ended. He knew neither Armistice Day, nor Veterans’ Day, yet his prayer expresses so well our prayers for both. With a blessing today for our military veterans, active duty personnel, and their families, I commend it to you for reflection and perhaps even for prayer.
O Lord, since first the blood of Abel cried to Thee from the ground that drank it, this earth of Thine has been defiled with the blood of man shed by his brother’s hand, and the centuries sob with the ceaseless horror of war. …
Grant to the rulers of nations faith in the possibility of peace through justice, and grant to the common people a new and stern enthusiasm for the cause of peace. Bless our soldiers and sailors [and airmen] for their swift obedience and their willingness to answer to the call of duty, but inspire them none the less with a hatred of war… May our young men [and women] still rejoice to die for their country with the valor of their fathers, but teach our age nobler methods of matching our strength and more effective ways of giving our life for the flag.
O Thou strong Father of all nations, draw all Thy great family together with an increasing sense of our common blood and destiny, that peace may come on earth at last, and Thy sun may shed its light rejoicing on a holy brotherhood of people.
Grace and peace,