Praying in times of conflict: A Constant Need
We are very careful not to use the word "war". We have "operations", "conflicts", and "humanitarian aid missions". The word "war" is generally reserved for conflagrations of an immense magnitude. So threatened was the United States after the attacks of September 11, 2001, that the ensuing campaign was named the "Global War On Terror". So we are at "war" now.
But if we include "operations" - of which more than eighty occurred during the 1990s alone, both at home and abroad- we can see that our country has been in constant conflict my entire life. And if you don't think that military operations count as conflict, just check with a military member who has come under fire during one of these operations. In my lifetime, conflicts and operations have killed people by the hundreds of thousands. Armed conflict is a condition of humanity. And so we MUST pray!
Are my prayers needed- and do they make a difference?
Absolutely! An eighteen-year-old woman marries her high school sweetheart while he is on leave after graduating from infantry school. The idealistic couple sets off from their small Midwestern hometown, hoping that the U-Haul towing their compact car will survive the trip all the way to their new home just outside of the main gates at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Two months after setting up housekeeping, the husband- a lance corporal in the US Marine Corps- is sent with his unit to the front lines of battle. A network of Marine Corps Key Wives is in place to help the new bride cope with the sudden separation and the fears that are part of the life of a military member's spouse. Still, nights are long and incredibly lonely. Not knowing the day-to-day fate of her husband is the source of the young woman's greatest fear. If her husband is going to make a career of service to the Marine Corps, she will quickly learn that this battle will not be his last. She will learn that in recent years marines have come under fire in Liberia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Some of these places she previously could not even pick out on a world map. The young wife and her husband are in constant need of support whether we are officially at war or not. Prayer will become a constant companion of the spouse and the marine.
Whether the country is at war or engaged in a humanitarian operation, all families associated with military service have a constant need for support and prayer. We have to pray constantly for peace. We have to pray constantly for an end to the human sin of conflict. Individuals and governments have tried unsuccessfully for generations to end human wars and conflicts. Prayer is the only thing that can make a difference. And so we must pray. And so we will pray:
Our Father which art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth,
as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power,
and the glory, forever.
A family friend and fellow Marine of my son just got married the other day! I wish to this new couple the support of many prayers and the mercy of God as they set off on their journey of life together. Congratulations to Steven and Chelsea!