The Teabagger's Prayer

Adapted from Mark Twain's The War Prayer by Terry Ballard

It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, their signs were waving proudly in front of the capitol. The fight was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism. In the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country, and invoked the God of Battles beseeching His aid in our good cause. It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the cause and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety's sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.

Sunday morning came -- the church was filled; the teabaggers were there, their old faces stern with fear -- visions of the fevered advance, the gathering momentum, the coverage on Fox News, proclaiming this as an important sign that the American People have had enough. Then home from the struggle, bronzed heroes, welcomed, adored, submerged in golden seas of glory! There to win for the flag, or, failing, die the noblest of noble deaths. The service proceeded; a war chapter from the Old Testament was read; the first prayer was said; it was followed by an organ burst that shook the building, and with one impulse the house rose, with glowing eyes and beating hearts, and poured out that tremendous invocation

*God the all-terrible! Thou who ordainest! Thunder thy clarion and lightning thy sword!

An aged stranger entered and moved with slow and noiseless step up the main aisle, his eyes fixed upon the minister, his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head bare, his white hair descending to his shoulders, his face unnaturally pale. With all eyes following him and wondering, he made his silent way; without pausing, he ascended to the preacher's side and stood waiting. With shut lids the preacher, unconscious of his presence, continued with his moving prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in fervent appeal, "Bless our arms, grant us the victory, O Lord our God, Father and Protector of our land and flag!"

The stranger touched his arm, motioned him to step aside -- which the startled minister did -- and took his place. During some moments he surveyed the spellbound audience with solemn eyes, in which burned an uncanny light; then in a deep voice he said:

"I come from the Throne -- bearing a message from Almighty God!" The words shocked the house. If the stranger noticed he gave no attention. "He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd, and will grant it if you still wish it after I, His messenger, have explained to you its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than he who speaks it knows -- unless he pause and think.

"You have heard your servant's prayer -- the spoken part of it. I am commissioned of God to put into words the other part of it -- that part which the pastor -- and also you in your hearts -- fervently prayed silently. And ignorantly and unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: 'Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!' That is sufficient. the whole of the spoken prayer is compact into those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for other unsaid results which follow victory--*must follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

"O Lord our Father, O Lord our God, help us to send desperate people to emergency rooms as their first line of defense when they can stand the pain no longer, knowing that they can never pay for any services they receive; help us to send the uninsured to early painful deaths; help us to bury them in unmarked mass pauper's graves and send their widows and children from their humble homes at the point of police guns. Help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it -- for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears. Help us to send more profits to medical insurance companies so that their leaders may gather eight-figure bonuses and use the money to do Thy work. We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him who taught us to love our enemy and turn the other cheek, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.

(*After a pause.*) "Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! The messenger of the Most High waits!"

It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.