During the outbreak of World War II, as we have already seen, the Lord gave the burden to intercessors to pray specifically for this crisis. Many believed that Hitler was Satan’s agent for preventing the gospel going to every creature.
For instance, Intercessor Rees Howells later said, “In fighting Hitler we have always said that we were not up against man, but the devil. Mussolini is a man, but Hitler is different. He can tell the day this ‘spirit’ came into him.” For several years Mr. Howells stressed the fact that God must destroy him, if the vision of the Gospel to every creature was to be fulfilled.
According to author David Gardner, we have sadly forgotten the Lord’s deliverance. “40 years later (almost 72 years now), many people seem to have forgotten that the whole of the continent of Europe had fallen under the domination of a tyrant –Adolf Hitler.
France, Belgium, Holland, Norway, Denmark, Czechoslovakia, Poland—all had been overrun by his Nazi armies. The continent of Europe was a subjugated people. It was looking westwards, pinning its hopes on Britain and America for its liberation. Deliverance! That was what they longed for, and no doubt it was that for which, in their anguish, many of them were praying. But the task was great that, to achieve it, God needed a massive instrument.
One was being fashioned, and its four components form an integral part of the next chapter of world history: godly leaders; a clear vision of the purpose set before them; a dedicated force; and a miracle.
Chief amongst the leaders whom God had been preparing down the years were King George VI, with his simple but deep awareness that he reigned through the grace of God; General Montgomery; Admiral Cunningham; Admiral Tovey; General Sir Miles Dempsey, Commander of the British Second Army in the invasion of Europe; and General Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander. All these had a testimony of his faith in Almighty God to declare.
Was it not remarkable that at this vital time in our history the most responsible tasks of leadership should fall to God-fearing, God-honoring, God-trusting men such as these, just as in the case of the Battle of Britain, God had prepared Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding? As at so many critical points in the war, this chapter of our history was opened with a solemn call to prayer and dedication.
On the eve of D-Day, King George VI broadcast again to the nation and to the world:
Four years ago our nation and empire stood alone against an overwhelming enemy, with our backs to the wall. Tested as never before in our history, in God’s providence we survived that test. The spirit of the people, resolute, dedicated, burned like a bright flame, lit surely from those unseen fires which nothing can quench. Now once more a supreme test has to be faced.
This time the challenge is not to fight to survive but to fight to win the final victory for the good cause… That we may be worthily matched with this new summons of destiny, I desire solemnly to call my people to prayer and to dedication.
We are not unmindful of our shortcomings, past and present. We shall ask not that God may do our will, but that we may be enabled to do the will of God.
And we dare to believe that God has used our nation and empire as an instrument for fulfilling his high purpose. Surely not one of us is too busy to play our part in a nation-wide, perchance a world-wide, vigil of prayer as the great crusade sets forth.
There was also the preparation of the forces about to be involved in the coming invasion. The Deputy Chaplain-General, Canon Llewellyn Hughes, indicated how thorough and painstaking had been the task given to the chaplains to prepare the fighting forces spiritually.
He said: “The consecration of our armies had not been a last-minute effort”, he declared. It had been a long and laborious process. We aimed at a permanent attitude of mind, at giving to soldiers such a vision of God’s will as would make the doing of it their main purpose.”
General Montgomery’s chief padre said that many thousands of them went forth for righteousness’ sake, and for no other reason.”
What was involved in that long, laborious but happy process? What was instilled into their minds? The chief padre tells us:
Let an army and a people learn what God stands for, and then they will know when they are for, or against, his purpose. They will then support or oppose with confidence as His commissioned servants.
It is not enough for an army or a nation to have a vague faith in God. “it is not enough for us to rest content that our commanders are godly, and that God’s flag is publicly flown. Faith in God is useless until it governs action.
What does God want done? We believe in God—as what? As a non-entity, content to be recognized, and then ignored? As vague power, meaningless, purposeless, inarticulate, and therefore unfit to command a platoon, let alone a world? No. We believe in God who wants, and means to have done, all that Christ embodied, taught, and lived out.
Then he added:
The leaders of the invasion force wished most of all that God should impart His own life and desires to the men, and they were certain that then the army would have a sound and honest heart, would hate evil and love good, and go upon this liberating enterprise with a free and genuine enthusiasm.
We were asked, and strongly asked, to make our men as Christian as we could, to preach the Word of Christ faithfully because it is true; to bring men to God that he might make them good.
Most of the men are not regular churchgoing men but they are God-going men, and they have their picture of the King of kings in the sanctuary of their hearts. And when General Eisenhower and General Montgomery in their final Orders of the Day asked us all to pray that God would prosper us, that prayer went up, and went up from honest hearts, freely and fully convinced that the business in hand was a liberation according to the will of God.
The Decision When to Invade
The Supreme Commander, his Commander-in-Chief and their Chiefs of Staff met at 4am on Monday, 5 June, for “the final and irrevocable decision.” Messages went to all the vast forces concerned: the invasion of France would start on the morning of the next day.
General Eisenhower gave testimony to the effect that this had on him, when he was speaking in Abilene, Kansas, his hometown, on 4 June 1952 (‘Time’ magazine, 16 June 1952).
This day, eight years ago, I made the most agonizing decision of my life. I had to decide to postpone by at least 24 hours the most formidable array of fighting ships and of fighting men that was ever launched across the sea against a hostile shore.
The consequences of that decision at that moment could not have been foreseen by anyone. If there was nothing else in my life to prove the existence of an Almighty and Merciful God, the events of the next 24 hours did it.
The greatest break in a terrible outlay of weather occurred the next day and allowed that great invasion to proceed, with losses far below those we had anticipated.
Therefore, according to Gardner’s argument, the entire period of the war is full of the great works of the Lord. Soldiers, statesmen, our monarch, and the events themselves, all bear testimony to this fact.
The hand of God was clearly on the history of England. I contend that it an indisputable fact that the whole story of the 1939-45 War is a story of one mighty deliverance or intervention of God after another. God was with England.”
No wonder Churchill had said, when addressing three thousand mine owners and mineworkers delegates eight days after the opening of the Battle of Alamein:
I sometimes have a feeling of interference. I want to stress that. I have a feeling sometimes that some Guiding Hand has interfered. I have a feeling that we have a Guardian, because we have a great cause, and we shall have that Guardian so long as we serve that cause faithfully.
And what a cause it is! In view of the tragic landslide which has happened which has happened since, the British people, whom he once led and inspired, now need desperately to be reminded not only of what he said about that Guardian, but of the condition he laid down for keeping that Guardian: “We shall have that Guardian so long as we serve that cause faithfully.
Victory in Europe Day 1945
On 8 May 1945, victory in Europe was joyfully proclaimed. The Allied forces had accomplished their mission. The whole continent of Western Europe had been liberated.
Mr. Churchill made a speech in which he proclaimed that…
I recollect well at the end of the last war, more than a quarter of a century ago, that the House when it heard the long list of surrender terms, the armistice terms, which had been imposed upon the Germans, did not feel inclined for debate or business, but desired to offer thanks to Almighty God, to the Great Power which seems to shape and design the fortunes of nations and the destiny of man; and I therefore beg, sir, with your permission to move,“That this House do now attend at the Church of St. Margaret, Westminster, to give humble and reverent thanks to Almighty God for our deliverance from the threat of German domination.”
Rev. David E. Gardner writes, “I well remember V.E. Day. London was rejoicing. The royal family, the Prime Minister, the Service chiefs, and members of the Cabinet, all appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace before a joyful and tumultuous throng.
It was a proud moment in our history. The Service chiefs came to the microphone in turn, made short speeches, and paid tribute to the part which their respective arm of the Services had played in bringing about this great victory.
The Prime Minister spoke – the one who had always been conscious of that overruling providence, that guiding, guardian hand. He must have come straight from the Thanksgiving Service in St. Margaret’s Westminster.
His Majesty King George VI then stepped quietly to the microphone. I can still hear his voice today, as he said with great emphasis:
We give thanks to Almighty God for the Victory He has granted us in Europe.
Excerpted from the Trilogy of David E. Gardner, The Trumpet Sounds For Britain, Copyright © Christian Foundation Publications, 2003