NORMAN — A new analysis of government data revealed that during WW II, as combat became heavier or “more frightening,” 72 percent of the soldiers turned to prayer instead of thoughts of their loved ones for their primary source of motivation (US News & World Report May 28, 2013, Article By Jason Koebler). In fact, the study discovered that as the battle turned deadlier the soldiers trust in national ideals decreased. Prayer increased. Perhaps there is some truth to the old saying, “There are no atheists in foxholes.”
These findings should not be a surprise. I think many of us know instinctively why these soldiers turned to prayer. When we are faced with a moment of dire crisis, when we stand at the edge of life and death, when we are faced with the most difficult troubles, when we are on the verge of helplessness and hopelessness, when the gravest of all tragedies are befalling upon us, or when confronted with unimagined misery, we are similarly bonded with these soldiers who had come to that critical moment where all that mattered in life was their dearest connection with God.
“Hear, O Lord, and answer me. For I am suffering and in need.” (Psalm 86:1) Such is the cry that has echoed in the hearts of humanity for ages. We are still crying out.
Think of the recent tornados in Shawnee and Moore. The devastation, the victims and the loss of tender lives. Yet, during this natural disaster there was the heartfelt instinctive need to pray. One teacher from Plaza Towers Elementary School would later admit, “I did something teachers aren’t supposed to do… I prayed, I prayed out loud. I said, ‘God, please don’t take these kids today.’
Think of our great President Abraham Lincoln who prayed mightily in his second inauguration for a war-torn country to an almighty God whose purposes were beyond human understanding. Lincoln would say, “I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to go.”