Prayer…story by an unknown author

“Once upon a time, the king of Jerusalem left his city in the custody of an eminent Captain, whose name was Zeal. He gave to Zeal many choice warriors, to assist him in the protection of the city. Zeal was a right hearted man, one who never wearied in the day of battle, but would fight all day, and all night, even though his sword did cleave to his hand as the blood ran down his arm. But it happened upon this time, that the king of Arabia, getting unto himself exceeding great hosts and armies, surrounded the city, and prevented any introduction of food for the soldiers, or of ammunition to support the war. Driven to the last extremity, Captain Zeal called a council of war, and asked them what course they should take. Many things were proposed, but they all failed to effect the purpose, and they came to the sad conclusion that nothing was before them but the surrender of the city, although upon the hardest terms. Zeal took the resolution of the council of war, but when he read it, he could not bear it. His soul abhorred it. “Better” he said “to be cut in pieces than to surrender. Better for us to be destroyed while we are faithful than to give up the keys of this royal city.” In his great distress, he met a friend of his, called Prayer, and Prayer said to him, “Oh! Captain I can deliver this city.” Now, Prayer was not a soldier, at least he did not look as if he were a warrior, for he wore the garments of a priest. In fact he was the king’s chaplain, and was a priest of the holy city of Jerusalem. But nevertheless Prayer was a valiant man and wore armor beneath his robes. “Oh! Captain,” said he, “give me three companions and I will deliver this city – their names must be Sincerity, Importunity, and Faith.” Now these four brave men went out of the city at the dead of night when the prospects of Jerusalem were the very blackest, they cut their way right through the hosts that surrounded the city. With many wounds and much smuggling they made their escape, and traveled all night long as quickly as they could across the plain, to reach the camp of the king of Jerusalem. When they flagged a little, Importunity would hasten them on; and when at any time they grew faint, Faith would give them a drink from his bottle, and they would recover. They came at last to the palace of the great king, the door was shut, but Importunity knocked long, and at last it was opened. Sincerity threw himself on his face before the throne of the great king and Prayer began to speak. He told the king of the great straits in which the beloved city was now placed, the dangers surrounding it, and the almost certainty that all the brave warriors would be cut in pieces by the morrow. Importunity repeated again and again the wants of the city, Faith pleaded hard the royal promise and the covenant. At last the king said to Captain Prayer, “Take with thee soldiers and go back, lo I am with Thee to deliver this city.” At morning light, just when the day broke for they had returned more swiftly than could have been expected, for though the journey seemed long in going there it was short in coming back, in fact they seemed to have gained time on the road, they arrived early in the morning, fell upon the hosts of the king of Arabia, took him prisoner, defeated his army, divided the spoil, and entered the gates of Jerusalem in triumph. Zeal put a crown of gold upon the head of Prayer, and decreed henceforth that whenever zeal went forth to battle, prayer should be the standard bearer, and should lead the army into the fray.”

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