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We Pray For You At Home by John Albert Broadus


When we meet for worship in the Church where you used to meet with us, sadly we miss you there, as we look at the place in which you loved to sit, and which for these weary months have been vacant.  Ah! many a manly form is wanting to our number, and many a deep, full tone to the harmony of the songs of praise we once delighted to sing together. But we who remain with all the tenderness of true affection, blended with sacredness of  solemn worship, pray then for you. And often, as the heart-felt petitions are uttered, tears are in every eye , and subdued sobs are heard here and there, while we put forth our whole souls in supplication for our country and for you. When  happy and hopeful; when depressed and anxious, all the more are we inclined, yea compelled, to pray. Sometimes we remember, that even while we worship, with the Sabbath-day stillness all around, you may be in the terrible shock of battle, amid all its wild commotion and its dreadful danger. Stirred by such a thought, we do not fall down and tremble; but, thanking God anew that he permits us to pray, we lift our beseeching, agonizing cry to Him in your behalf.

When we gather our now broken circle for family prayer. Then all things remind us of the absent, and every heart in the little group, younger and older, bond and free, throbs when our petitions are for you. It is a topic of prayer that does not grow old, but, like the mercies of God, it is new every morning and fresh every evening. Recall the memories of that scene; remember us not as we were in days of prosperity, when the heart grew sluggish and the prayer was tame, but as in a season when some one was very ill, and we cried to God that he would not take the loved one away—and you may partly understand with what earnestness of soul we pray for you. 

When alone with our beating hearts and our God, in secret devotion. Like the dew-drops that have gathered all night, and in the morning exhale, so the thoughts of affection and anxiety that have been gathering for hours about our hearts turn now to prayer, and mount up as incense before the Lord. And this is no general supplication, such as others may share in, but the yearning spirit pleads for one alone—for one whose dear image rises in a moment to view, whose voice, associated with the fondest recollections of other days, can almost be heard now in the stillness of the closet, whose present condition and wants are from the latest tidings anxiously inferred and conjectured— with all the particularity of personal affection, one prays for one; and that kind Father on high, who formed them for mutual love, is beholding both at the same moment, and often, no doubt, though they are widely severed, at the same moment turns the rising prayer of the one into showers of blessing upon the other. Who can tell how many such scenes, far and wide over our land, the angels look down upon from heaven, the loving Saviour sees, who on earth was wont to wrestle intensely in solitary prayer, and whose mild eye rests now in human sympathy and in Divine mercy upon every praying disciple. 

And not merely at set time, but often, by day or by night, our fervent ejaculations are heard by Him, who amid the wide tumult of earth's voices of business and suffering, of folly and crime, misses no word of prayer, no sigh of supplication. Often, amid the fatigues of out-door work or the bustle of domestic duties, our thoughts fly away to you and then fly up to Heaven. Often, when we awake, it night, it is to you our spirits turn; and tears on the pillow could sometimes tell that we pray for you.

We pray for the cause—that just and glorious cause in which you so nobly struggle—that it may please God to make you triumphant, that we may have independence and peace. We do not delude ourselves with the idea that a righteous cause must certainly prevail; in some instances, for wise reasons, God suffers those who are in the right to be overwhelmed. But we believe that it is never in vain humbly and earnestly to cry to the merciful Ruler of all, who will grant just what we ask, or something which he sees to be better, And trying to realize that there is power in prayer, and seeking truly to humble ourselves before hin, we pray God to grant in success of driving our enemies back, till the last footstep of invasion shall have passed from our borders, and our now darkened and suffering land shall be radiant with the sunshine of peace and prosperity. We cannot share your trials and perils in the camp and the battle, but for your cause, and our cause, for your country and ours God be thanked that we can pray. 

John Albert Broadus, We Pray For You At Home (Raleigh, N.C., 1861), 1-3.

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