Oh God, our God, you have told us that there is no greater love than to lay down your life for your friends. Lord, bless those that take that risky invitation freely and put their life on the line in duty and service to others. Currently, our military faces a landscape that is more complicated and more diverse in threats than ever before. Scattered across the globe, we are engaged in the longest continuous period of conflict in the history of our nation. Separated by hemispheres and oceans, we remember those engaged in operations abroad. Lord, watch over the nearly 4000 troops deployed in Iraq, 300 troops deployed in Syria, and nearly 10,000 troops deployed in Afghanistan. Combined with troops deployed and stationed at countless forts, bases, and ports across the world, the need for prayer is never ending and overwhelming and we pray for the peace that will bring them all safely home. For our Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen, and Veterans, be their refuge and their stronghold.
We grieve for the heroes that will not come home and now leave spaces in our hearts and our formations. This Tuesday, we received news that we lost another hero, Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Charlie Keating IV, in a heroic defense of American combat advisors in Iraq who were pinned down by ISIS militants. We honor his sacrifice and the life he offered freely. However, we’re reminded that our enemies are not only found in the deserts across the world, but in our own backyards. Last year alone, 475 service members took their own lives. This is a staggering loss as we continue to kill ourselves faster than our enemies can. In your mercy, Lord, hear our prayers. The suicide rate for our citizen reserve and guard soldiers rose by over 24% this year and our veterans continue to commit suicide at rates nearly 50% over the national average. This cannot continue. The primary enemy and threat to our military is not extremism or proliferation, it’s apathy, hopelessness, and isolation. These are enemies that we have tolerated for too long and cannot tolerate any more. We can fight these enemies ourselves and the work needs to start today. Let us move with you, God, from prayer to significant action.
Wherever the mission carries our heroes, Lord, be one in whom they can trust. Be the one who will not abandon them and will not give up on them. Allow them to find refuge in your wings in the midst of battles both external and internal. Do not let them fear the terrors at night and the arrows that fly in the day. Remain right beside them. Across our world and our nation, allow every service member to know the assurance of your promise to them, to hear them, to be with them in whatever hell they find themselves and rescue them. You’ve guaranteed your protection, now please answer their thoughts and their prayers, especially the ones without words. Be with them in troubling times and fill them with old age and stories that through them we might see the testimony and the work of your salvation.
-CH (CPT) S. Arthur Harrison
Feature photo “Military Carosel Golden Tank” by Daryn Labier