There is an old saying among the foot soldiers stating that there are no atheists in foxholes. With this context it is no wonder that our Armed Services have used prayer to guide them and console them in their times of need. Colonel Ronald D. Ray has compiled a remarkable study of prayers and it’s used by our military.
The author has presented prayers in chronological order and shows the various uses of prayer under all human conditions. Whether it is war, peacetime, out at sea or in the foxholes the uses of talking to a Supreme Being emanates from Day’s study of prayer as used by the Armed Forces of the United States.
Colonel Ronald D. Ray takes the use of prayer in chronological order from the Revolutionary War to the wars of Afghanistan and Iraq. We see prayers of hope, remorse and help for courage, prayers for the wounded and even prayers for the enemy. Prayers written by enlisted men, officers, chaplains, generals and even by Presidents of the United States are brought forth for all to read and contemplate. This is a true compilation of what prayer is all about within our Armed Forces.
Prayers from all faiths are contained in this book. Prayers come from the enlisted ranks to general officers onto the Commander in Chief. In fact Colonel Ronald D. Day includes the prayers which were incorporated in all of the President’s inaugural addresses.
Some of the content explains the mindsets of men who wear the uniform of the armed services.; It shows us hope, remorse and forgiveness. It even shows prayers intended for our enemies. This book also would serve as a handy reference for chaplains and those so inclined to seek solace in prayer.
One particular prayer given by President Eisenhower on January 20, 1953 would be very relevant in today’s politics. As relevant as that in fact that if it was taken to heart, the very actions of our dysfunctional congress, would benefit from such advice given sixty years before which that beginning prayer of that address gives to us.
Reviewed by: Dick Geschke (2014)
Prayer has been a part of America since her founding, and has defined her in government, military, and spirit. Congressional statutes, first passed in 1775, require: 1) Exemplary Conduct and; 2) prayer and Divine Services in the US Armed Forces, which were fully practiced and enforced until the last few decades. This historic collection of American military prayer spans 1774 to the present and contains 280 uniquely American prayers. The collection serves a dual purpose: First, it demonstrates the necessity of prayer to America's military mission. Secondly, at a time when prayer is being disregarded, opposed by political and military leaders, and treated more like ceremonial deism or mere formality in military and non-military circumstances, this collection allows anyone of any station or denomination, the opportunity to draw from its pages a prayer associated with an historic occasion or prayed by an historic figure. As the voices of presidents and military heroes recorded in this book have continuously maintained, America and her fighting forces must not lose touch with our nation's understanding of the "Creator" named in the Declaration of Independence, and His broad and great endowment of Divine Providence for our "One Nation Under God." For the military to lose or ignore the "religious fervor of the soul" is done at 'great peril." Thus, mindful of this dire need, First Principles presents "Endowed by Their Creator": A Collection of Historic American Military Prayers 1774-Present.