A Before the Foxhole Prayer

The reconstruction of the battle of the Second World WarA “foxhole prayer” is a prayer you pray when things are difficult and pressing.  A test you’ve not studied for.  The fear of an unwanted pregnancy.  A sudden job loss.  A terminal diagnosis.  Such things can cause even non-religious people to pray a foxhole prayer that sounds something like this:  “God, if you’ll just fix this then I’ll do that.”

But what about a “before the foxhole prayer?”  Perhaps if we prayed more “before the foxhole prayers,” we might not find ourselves in as many foxholes.

In his book Adapt or Die: Leadership Principles From an American General, Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Rick Lynch talks about his experience at West Point.  There he was required to memorize something called the Cadet Prayer.  You can click on the link to go to the West Point website and read it, but I’ve also included the words of the Cadet Prayer below:

O God, our Father, Thou Searcher of human hearts, help us to draw near to Thee in sincerity and truth. May our religion be filled with gladness and may our worship of Thee be natural.

Strengthen and increase our admiration for honest dealing and clean thinking, and suffer not our hatred of hypocrisy and pretense ever to diminish. Encourage us in our endeavor to live above the common level of life. Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong, and never to be content with a half truth when the whole can be won. Endow us with courage that is born of loyalty to all that is noble and worthy, that scorns to compromise with vice and injustice and knows no fear when truth and right are in jeopardy. Guard us against flippancy and irreverence in the sacred things of life. Grant us new ties of friendship and new opportunities of service. Kindle our hearts in fellowship with those of a cheerful countenance, and soften our hearts with sympathy for those who sorrow and suffer. Help us to maintain the honor of the Corps untarnished and unsullied and to show forth in our lives the ideals of West Point in doing our duty to Thee and to our Country. All of which we ask in the name of the Great Friend and Master of all.


This seems like a good “before the foxhole prayer,” even if you’re not really religious.  Who wouldn’t benefit from…

  • Focusing on honesty and clean thinking.
  • Diminishing hypocrisy and pretense.
  • Living above the common level of life.
  • Choosing the harder right over the easier wrong.
  • Turning from half truths and compromise.
  • Living a life that’s loyal, noble, and defends the sacred things of life.
  • Looking for new friendships and opportunities to serve others.
  • Having a cheerful countenance and a sympathetic heart for others.

You and I may not be West Point cadets, but I’m betting that if we consistently prayed this prayer (or at least focused on these things) before the foxholes of our life, then we would probably stay out of more foxholes.  Just sayin’.

On another level…

You will find a lot of “foxhole prayers” in the Scripture.  After all, the Scripture is filled with stories of everyday people just like you and me.  Still, there are also times when you will find Scripture talking about praying before the foxhole.   Zephaniah 2:1-2 is one of those times.  There, the prophet of God is urging the people to pray before the foxhole times come.

We need to remember that more “before the foxhole prayers” will mean less “foxhole prayers.”  Again, just sayin’.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think about the idea of “before the foxhole prayers.”

Copyright © 2014 Bret Legg

3 thoughts on “A Before the Foxhole Prayer”

  1. I’m always saying foxhole prayers of late. It’s not always certain they are answered. This is when you have to have total trust in God.


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