History is chock full to the brim with armies led by men who claimed that God was on their side. This is common in war, as it is in sports. My favorite is the pre-game prayer at Notre Dame football games: “Our Lady of Victory, pray for us!” The exclamation point is not optional.
Now, I know that when Catholics asks Mary to pray for them, it doesn’t mean that they think that the Mother of God is going to go to God the Father and ask for a Notre Dame victory. On the other hand, that would be my guess as to what most students pray for. Of course, it just might help explain how a relatively small Catholic school could do so well against schools with three and four times as many undergraduates…
My practice is not to pray for a specific outcome. God is not our valet or go-to-guy to get good concert tickets. I pray for the strength to deal with what comes my way, and I pray for those in need, that they will be granted the strength from God to deal with what they must. Ok, a small fib. I also pray that friends and relatives who are ill will recover, or, as we pray in church, “have a good outcome.”
A good outcome doesn’t always mean “success” as most would define that word. To be at peace with a fatal disease, knowing that we will be with our Lord at the end, would be success enough for me. At least I hope that is the way it goes…
As for whether God ought to be prayed to in matters of war, Abraham Lincoln had this to say about God being on our side:
Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side.
Amen to that. If our cause is just, God will be with us. If not, not. No mystery there.