Dr. David Gordon, Burbank’s new Mayor, faced a large morning audience for the 39th Annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast last Thursday at the Pickwick Banquet & Entertainment Center. He shared a story about a WWII prayer that has become an enduring part of history:
Torrential rains were pelting Germany in the days immediately before the Battle of the Bulge, a crucial WWII offensive against the Nazis. One of the Allies’ most brilliant generals, “blood and guts” George S. Patton, was worried that mud and ruts would frustrate his drive into the remaining Nazi strongholds.
On December 8, 1944 General Patton sent a Christmas greeting to his soldiers. He included a prayer that Almighty God “grant us fair weather in battle” that his soldiers “may advance from victory to victory and crush the wickedness and oppression of our enemies.” (It was like General Patton that he didn’t pray to avoid the fight, but instead to have a fighting chance.)
And indeed, the torrential rains ceased. The Allies went on to win the Battle of the Bulge. The following spring, Germany surrendered.
“Did the prayer matter?” asked Mayor Gordon, putting his finger on a question that believers and non-believers alike have wrestled with. But most, if not all, of the morning’s listeners have come to believe that prayer has changed their lives and, at times, can change the fate of an entire nation.
The Annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast is a local version of the Presidential Prayer Breakfast held annually in Washington, D.C. Christian Leadership groups in the House and Senate inaugurated this event in 1952. By then, Russia and China had the bomb and the specter of nuclear war drove many to seek divine assistance to avert it. It’s part of a wider tradition of prayer that includes Lincoln declaring a day of Thanksgiving while the Civil War was still raging, and Washington praying on his knees at Valley Forge in the darkest days of the Revolutionary War.
First Presbyterian Church Pastor Ross Purdy welcomed the attendees, which included County Supervisor Michael Antonovich; Council Members Gary Bric, Vice Mayor Bob Frutos and Emily Gabel Luddy; City Treasuer Debbie Kukta; School Board Members Ted Bunch, Dave Kemp and Vice-President Charlene Tabet; and School Superintendent Jan Britz.
Village Christian School Headmaster Tom Konjoyan gave the Invocation, followed by a special a cappella performance from singer Shyvonne Johnson. Ross Purdy followed with introductions, followed by Mayor Gordon’s welcome. Master’s Men member Darrell Taylor introduced Guest Speaker Douglas Howe, whose topic was “4 Prayers We All Can Pray” (see companion article.) Master’s Men member and Pastor Wade Mikels concluded the event with the Benediction.
Sponsoring Club Presidents were Glenn Taylor of Master’s men, Gary Oseransky and Terry Scott of Optimist, Dr. Bruce Lily of Noon Kiwanis, Lee Stacy of Sunrise Rotary and Barbara Howell of Noon Rotary.