Mar 21, 2024

Samuel Guard


I have a soft spot in my heart for farmers. When my grandfather retired from the Marine Corps, he bought a farm in Ohio where he raised cattle and harvested grain crops. My family lived adjacent to the farm, and one of my vivid memories is chasing stray cattle back into a fenced pasture. The Farmer Gives Thanks is a collection of 56 prayers written especially for farmers. Its author, Samuel R. Guard (1889-1956), was born and raised on an Ohio farm and invested his life’s work in agriculture. He was editor of Breeder’s Gazette, a livestock farming magazine. Talk about a niche market! Farming is labor-intensive. Early mornings, long days, and late nights come with the territory. Farmers must cope with wildly fluctuating market prices and unpredictable weather patterns. The “Winds of March” prayer that follows here begins by correlating Jesus’ act of calming a storm-tossed sea to the same trusting faith farmers need as they transition to spring planting. His reference at the end of the prayer to wild geese flying in a customary “V’ formation serves as God’s harbinger of spring. We are thankful for God’s faithfulness in changing seasons. Consider what God promised Noah as we reflect on today’s prayer, “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease” (Genesis 8.22):

Who shall rebuke the winds of March or calm the raging snow waters?
Who but Thee, O Lord, who slept in the hinder part of the ship
and commanded us not to be fearful.
And told the storm: be still.
Give us that same great faith, O God,
as we come into the new spring.
Bless our plows, and our harrows too.
Let the grass seed fall on good ground,
in the moist earth,
and live again in the warmth of the sun.
Bless every suckling on this place, our Father,
strengthen the mothers,
and spread the tender spirit of love and sacrifice
into the hearts of men the world around.

We saw in wild geese in echelon flying, O God,
and we are thankful.

Samuel R. Guard, A Farmer Gives Thanks

Rev. Dr. Peter James served 42 years as the senior of Vienna Presbyterian Church in Vienna, VA — 21 years in the 20th century and 21 years in the 21st century. He retired in 2021 and now serves as Pastor-in-Residence at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

Even as a pastor, prayer came slowly to Pete. Read Pete’s story.