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Pregame prayer, inspired by Twain

The ACLU wants Tennessee schools to cease allowing public prayers at football games. Good idea. Not because it violates anyone’s rights, but because, as no less an authority than Jesus said, we should pray in private. Also, if God is any kind of red-blooded American, He loves football, and undoubtedly prefers to see some rough-and-tumble instead of the depressing sight of a stadium full of people with eyes closed and heads bowed.

In 1904 or 1905, a few years before his death, Mark Twain wrote “The War Prayer,” as a commentary on the Spanish-American War specifically and on war in general. The piece was never published in his lifetime. If Twain were alive today, when football is much bigger than war, he might have written the prayer a little differently.

The text below shows "The War Prayer," with Twain’s updates in parentheses. The prayer can be said at home, on Saturday or Sunday morning for example, right before the day’s schedule of games.

“Lord our Father, our young patriots (or any other team’s members), idols of our hearts, go forth into battle — be Thou near them! With them — in spirit — we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides (home entertainment centers) to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us tear their soldiers (players) to bloody shreds with our shells (helmets, without incurring a concussion); help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead (defeated); help us to drown the thunder of the guns (their crowd) with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes (stadiums) with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows (cheerleaders) with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless (scholarship-/contract-less) with their little children (waterboys) to wander unfriended in the wastes of their desolated land (practice facilities) in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames in summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring thee for the refuge of the grave (rematch) 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, stain the white snow (green grass or artificial turf) with the blood of their wounded feet!

"We ask it, in the spirit of love (the point spread), 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. (Team!)"

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