I came across this little prayer in Charles Reagan Wilson’s Baptized in Blood and kept coming back to it.
Lord we acknowledge Thee as the all-wise author of every good and perfect gift. We recognize Thy presence and wisdom in the healing shower. We acknowledge Thou had a divine plan when Thou made the rattle-snake, as well as the song bird, and this was without help from Charles Darwin. But we believe Thou will admit the grave mistake in giving the decision to the wrong side in eighteen hundred and sixty-five.
J. William Jones’ thoroughly Confederate prayer is an easy object for scornful derision or amused mockery, but I imagine at the time it seemed a powerful expression of the mind not only of the speaker but of the audience. If it was met with any reaction at all, I suspect it was hearty assent from the North Carolina audience.
Meanwhile, are we any more careful in the way we address ourselves to God. With the level-heads of calmer thinkers or the benefit of the perspective of history, how will people evaluate the all too often modern prayer that God will ensure that our soldiers be the ones to kill their soldiers and not the other way around. Do we suppose God receives those prayers any better than the informed criticisms of Jones? They certainly are no less self-interested or self-involved, no less tribalist than the Lost Cause musings of the rebel veteran.