For over ten years now, we have been praying regularly at our Sunday and weekday services for those in our military service and for their families. While it can be good any time to pray for our soldiers, we started these intercessions at the time of the invasion of Iraq because of the high level of danger these men and women found themselves in. Unfortunately armed conflict persists, and we still continue these prayers for the men and women of our armed forces assigned to a combat zone.
We have prayed not only for parishioners, but also for any soldiers known to our parishioners, who make a specific request for these other names to be included. When a soldier is transferred from harm’s way, we remove them from the list, sometimes to add them again when they are reassigned another tour of duty. Over time, the origin of some names can be lost or their assignment unknown, and we are more disposed to keep them in the prayers than delete them. Such is the case for what gradually evolved into the last three names on the list: “Christopher, Mohammed, and Aaron.” These were specific soldiers’ names when we began to pray for them, but they have now come to represent the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim soldiers who are in need of our prayers.
Christians believe in the power of prayer, not necessarily to effect exactly what we ask for, but to acknowledge our dependence on God and to hold in presence before the Divine those in particular need. Our holding of others prayerfully in our hearts can make it more possible for God’s grace to act and to be received. It can open all of us to the transforming, life-giving power of God.
Thank you for your continued prayers for those serving our country. I know we all long for the day when praying for those in harm’s way will no longer be necessary.