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The Soldiers' & Airmen's Scripture Readers Association

A Call to Pray: Part One

War Cemetery. Photo by Kent Rebman on Unsplash.
This article was first published in our Spring 2024 Ready magazine, which you can subscribe to receive by email.

Eighty years on since the D-Day Landings, there still stands a call to pray for members of our Armed Forces.

‘…We believe in God who wants, and means to have done, all that Christ embodied, taught, lived out. Let an Army and a people learn what God stands for, and then they will know when they are for or against His purpose, and support or oppose with confidence as His commissioned servants…’

The Second World War resulted in an estimated death toll of over thirty-eight million; an amount so large it is hard to comprehend nearly eighty years on. Britain was still recovering from the war that was supposed to end all wars only a few years prior, unaware of the horrors WWII would bring. The role of the church, gospel work and the prayers of Christians have never been insignificant during times of war and military activity, but all the more vital. We see in times past, that when the situation seems desperate and hopeless, people look to a higher power. This was the case during WWII, where the prayers of the church and the guiding hand of God can be clearly traced, from the miracle of Dunkirk to the D-Day Landings that changed the course of the war. Christians all over Europe and the rest of the world were united by one thing: prayer.

Dunkirk 26-29 May 1940. British troops line up on the beach at Dunkirk to await evacuation. Public Domain Image.

Dunkirk 26-29 May 1940. British troops line up on the beach at Dunkirk to await evacuation. Public Domain Image.

Christian faith was far more of a central and influencing aspect upon Britain than most history books would lead to believe.

Whether they were Scripture Readers or Chaplains preaching to soldiers who might not see the morning, or soldiers fighting on the frontline witnessing to their comrades, whether they were those working in hospitals or factories, or the ones praying from home; they placed their trust in God and committed all their needs to Him. During WWII, Christian faith was far more of a central and influencing aspect upon Britain, its military leaders, common soldiers and those who served at home, than most history books would lead to believe.

Within the first year of the war, the British people were in desperate need of a miracle. The British Expeditionary Force and French and Belgian troops had been pushed back and trapped to the French port of Dunkirk. It was a dire situation, the Royal Navy began to organise ‘Operation Dynamo’, but Churchill and his advisors predicted the rescue of 20,000 to 30,000 men at best out of the near 400,000 who were stranded. The nation held its breath as they waited for the outcome. A National Day of Prayer was called on 26 May 1940, not by the church, but by the King and Parliament.

The nation did respond. Churches across the land were packed full, with many gathering outside the buildings when there was no more room inside. They committed themselves to God, admitting the desperate need of His intervention.

Quote from Maureen.

A recollection of the call to pray for the safety of our soldiers at war.

In the following week, God’s answer to their prayers could be clearly seen in the events that are now often referred to as the ‘Miracle of Dunkirk’. Nearly 900 Navy and private vessels sailed across an unusually, perhaps miraculously, calm English Channel. Easterly winds blew smoke over the beaches where soldiers waited to be evacuated, and while cloud cover prevented the Luftwaffe from bombing the Allied Forces, above the cloud, the Royal Air Force were able to engage.

Instead of the hoped for 20,000 to 30,000 rescued soldiers, 338,226 British and Allied troops were rescued from the beaches. When looked at in context of the prayers of the nation, it’s hard to see this as anything other than divine intervention from the Most High God that the King urged his subjects to appeal to.

Part Two: coming soon.


Scripture Reader praying

Pray for today’s Armed Forces on the 80th Anniversary of D-Day

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