Friday, September 07, 2007

“How Do You Pray for a Soldier?”

The year was 1969. My father, U.S. Army Chaplain Robert H. Rogers, was serving in Vietnam. Every day I prayed for him. My cousin, James would always pray, “God bless our soldiers,” but that got old, hearing him say the same thing over and over. I wish back then that James and I had read Psalm 140. Then we would know how to pray for the my dad and all of the troops.
First, we should pray for the soldier’s safety. Psalm 140 almost sounds like a description of terrorists, as the prayer opens by saying, “Rescue me, O LORD, from evil men; protect me from men of violence, who devise evil plans in their hearts and stir up war every day.” Verse 4 is a prayer to “protect me from men of violence,” and then verse 7 on the Lord who is “my strong deliverer, who shields my head in the day of battle…”
Second, we should pray for justice to prevail. Some people think we should not pray for soldiers at all, because war is violent. However, most Christians agree that there is such a thing as a “just war,” when the soldier’s actions can prevent a greater evil. Certainly the battles fought by God’s people in the Bible imply that. Psalm 140 calls for justice. We read in verse 8, “do not grant the wicked their desires, O LORD; do not let their plans succeed, or they will become proud.” This verse reminds me of those evil men who wanted to prevent Iraqis from having free elections. The psalmist prays in verses 11-12, “may disaster hunt down men of violence,” and prays for “justice for the poor.”
Third, we should pray for our own faith to increase. After a pause, called “Selah,” at the end of verse 5, he begins the prayer again in verse 6 with a statement of personal trust: “O LORD, I say to you, ‘You are my God.’ Hear, O LORD, my cry for mercy.” Then Psalm 140 ends with the confident hope that the upright will “live in Your presence.” Those soldiers who died in battle can know that their deaths are not in vain, for they served their nation well. And those soldiers who trusted in Jesus Christ as personal Savior and Lord can know that they will live in God’s presence in Heaven, as verse 13 proclaims.
I was at Boy Scout camp when my PawPaw showed up early to rush me to the small airport in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. My Dad had come home from Vietnam several days earlier than expected. I watched as a bronze-looking man got off the little plane and walked across the hot concrete, and my Mom rushed to his arms, tears running down her face, to welcome him home.
Max Lucado, in his book The Applause of Heaven, says that one day we will get off at Heaven’s airport, and there will be One whose nail-scarred hands will stretch from His robe, as He applauds our service on earth and our arrival home.
Yes, we can pray for that!

No comments: