What Does A Legendary American War General Say About Prayer?
General Robert E. Lee’s reputation has been under scrutiny for several years lately, but there’s no mistaking his life’s accomplishments and historical significance.
All of it can be summed up by service.
It started as young as age 11, when he was forced to care for his suddenly widowed and disabled mother upon the death of his father. He began a distinguished 36-year military career of service to his nation in 1829.
When Virginia declared its secession from the Union in April 1861, Lee chose to follow his home state, despite his desire for the country to remain intact and an offer of a senior Union command. He simply could not fight against his brothers and sisters back home, even though he personally did not favor the southern states’ secession from the Union.
Particularly notable is the fact that history offers proof that Lee’s letters, orders and dispatches regularly offered praise and thanks to God. His devotion to the cause of peace support an attitude toward service to others, and it helped his reputation in a postwar America.
One of Lee’s famous letters – written in 1863 during the Civil War – demonstrates his incredible position on the power of prayer, especially at a time when the nation needed it:
“Soldiers! Let us humble ourselves before the Lord, our God, asking through Christ, the forgiveness of our sins, beseeching the aid of the God of our forefathers in the defense of our homes and our liberties, thanking Him for His Past blessings and imploring their continuance upon our cause and our people.
Knowing that intercessory prayer is our mightiest weapon and the supreme call for all Christians today, I pleadingly urge our people everywhere to pray. Believing that prayer is the greatest contribution that our people can make in this critical hour, I humbly urge that we take time to pray – to really pray.
Let there be prayer at sunup, at noonday, at sundown, at midnight – all through the day. Let us pray for our children, our youth, our aged, our pastors, our homes. Let us pray for the churches.
Let us pray for ourselves, that we may not lose the word ‘concern’ out of our Christian vocabulary. Let us pray for our nation. Let us pray for those who have never known Jesus Christ and His redeeming love, for moral forces everywhere, for our national leaders. Let prayer be our passion. Let prayer be our practice.”
Known for regularly praying with his family at night and devoutly reading the Bible even during the most pressing of his duties, Lee’s approach is inspiring.
There was perhaps no general who admittedly failed so often, yet has been so revered.
And yet throughout it all, Robert Edward Lee knew the power of prayer.