I am often asked what can be done to support the men and women of our military. While there are a lot of good answers to that question, care packages are always appreciated especially if they have chocolate chip cookies, some answers may be more helpful than others. As people of faith we believe that “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (James 5:16) Many times while serving abroad, the knowledge that people were praying for me brought a great deal of comfort and encouragement. Believing that God honors prayer and that praying can provide a peace to those serving, what are three specific things that we can pray over those in uniform?
1. Pray for physical safety and provision. Armed service often means putting oneself in harm’s way setting aside personal safety for the greater good. We need only to look at the number of service members wounded and killed to know that the military can be a dangerous place to work! We need to consistently pray for God’s safety and provision over those who are risking their own lives for the freedoms that we enjoy. I can personally think back to a number of times in combat where the only explanation for survival was the intervening hand of God. We are told in the twenty-first book of Proverbs verse thirty-one that, “the horse is prepared for the day of battle, but deliverance is of the Lord.” Let’s pray to the Lord of deliverance for safety and provision.
2. Pray for the family members of those who serve. The dynamic in the military family is something that most people would not understand. Particularly for those who are either a part of a combat unit or support those who are, “normal” family time and routines look very different than for most civilian families. While a service member is deployed, often between six and eighteen months, life at home goes on without a spouse or parent. Roles and responsibilities that are typically divided now fall to one person. When you add to that the stress of a family member living and working in a dangerous place you now have a family under tremendous strain. Pray for strength, provision and encouragement and for that “peace that passes understanding.” (Philippians 4:7)
3. Pray for spiritual health and perspective. Pray that those serving would have the ability to look beyond their current situation and to a God that loves and cares for them. Perspective on the bigger spiritual issues is what will allow the service member to come through difficult seasons of service with their emotional and spiritual lives in tact. The many things that a service member will inevitably deal with must be grounded in their identity in Christ so that these events do not begin to define them. Pray that they will stay close to God and continue to see things as they really are.
Let’s pray for those who serve with such consistency that we could echo the words of the Apostle Paul in Colossians 1:9-11
For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness.
Jeremy M. Stalnecker Executive Director – Mighty Oaks Foundation