Prayer for our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan
Is there a way to pray for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and other places in harm's way that will improve their safety? This is a big question for mothers and fathers and other relatives as they tearfully wave goodbye to a loved one leaving for war. Do those who pray have any better chance of coming back alive than those who don't or who don't have anyone praying for them?
As of September 2005, over 1900 Americans have been killed in the Iraq war and over 14000 have been wounded. I'm quite sure that many of those were Christians; I'm sure prayer went up for many who are now dead or wounded. So what happened? Is this just a lottery and when your number comes up you are taken out?
It is true that God has our days numbered. "And in your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me." (Psalm 139:16) It is also true that "the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much." (James 5:16) So everything in our life is not already written in stone as if we were governed by fate. Prayer matters. Prayer changes things.
To those who are hoping and praying for the safe return of their soldier, this is more than a philosophical discussion; praying effective prayers is a matter of life and death. So let's examine some specific and practical ways to insure God's protection no matter how hot the battle or dangerous the assignment.
Since we are talking about prayers of protection for our military, let's approach this from a military perspective. Battles are planned. Military strategy is used. Soldiers do not just run out on a battlefield and start shooting in every direction. That would be a big waste of ammunition and energy. Chaos and loss of life would result. While the soldiers ultimately implement the battle plan, the war is often won beforehand in the situation room by generals and war strategists.
Tactic of Choice -- God's Word
For the prayer warrior with a soldier in combat, what is the winning strategy? Let's start with using the Word of God both as an offensive and defensive tactic. A tactic is a method of employing forces in combat. Each time God's Word is propelled into the devil's territory, Satan takes a direct hit. There are no misses when using the Word of God. Your confidence in the truth of the Word is an additional boost to your weapon's success (like a smart bomb).
As an offensive tactic, your prayer takes ground; as a defensive tactic your prayer keeps ground and prevents the enemy from taking ground. In a practical sense, offensive prayers are those which affirm and proclaim God's care and protection over your loved one. Here are some examples. I'll throw in some fictitious names as samples.
"Lord, your word says; 'If God is for us, who can be against us?' (Romans 8:31) Since you are for Tom, Lord, what can the enemy do to him? Nothing! The enemy has no power over Tom and cannot do harm to his body, soul or spirit."
"You bless the righteous, O Lord, and Peggy is righteous because of the blood of Jesus. You surround Peggy with favor as with a shield." (Adapted from Psalm 5:12)
"Lord, I thank you that Sean is under the shadow of your wings. He has taken refuge in you. He is not afraid of the terror by night or the arrow (or gun or bomb) that flies by day. Even if a thousand fall at his side or ten thousand on his right hand, it will not come near him. No evil will befall Sean. I count on the truth of your Word Lord." (Adapted from Psalm 91)
"No weapon formed against Aaron shall prosper. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord. I claim your Word now for Aaron's life in the name of Jesus." (Adapted from Isaiah 54:17)
Of course, you could literally pray thousands of prayers from God's Word like the ones above. The better you know scripture, the more smart bombs you will have in your arsenal to lob at the enemy.
Defensively, your use of scripture controls and limits Satan's ability to have his way to steal, kill and destroy. Jesus used the Word against Satan when he was being tempted. He kept saying; "It is written…" and finally Satan gave up and left him. So, for instance, if the devil assaults you with fear that your loved one will be killed, you can say; "It is written that the Lord has delivered me from all my fears. (Psalm 34:4) Be gone Satan."
Defensive use of God's Word also put Satan in his place. You can remind him of the fact that he is under the feet of Jesus as a footstool; that he is defeated because of the blood of the Lamb or that he will be chained to the lake of fire for all eternity.
Covering Every Base
When Nehemiah was rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem he was up against a fierce and persistent foe that was determined to stop the work. But Nehemiah planned for EVERY contingency. He said in Nehemiah 4:9; "We set up a guard against them day and night." He was vigilant and smart about preventing an ambush.
Additionally, he arranged for the workers to be split into two groups. While one group worked, the other held the spears, shields, and bows. Then he had those rebuilding the wall carry their load in one hand and their weapon in the other. Behind them were captains who watched the whole process. And finally, Nehemiah had a trumpeter stand near him as he surveyed the work in order to sound the alarm quickly if needed. Miraculously, the wall was finished in fifty-two days.
Now you can apply Nehemiah's wisdom as you pray. Leave no opening for the enemy to ambush your loved one in the military. Pray with every kind of prayer such as praise, singing, intercession, prayer of agreement. Pray specifically. Include fasting in your prayer routine.
Pray at times when you know your soldier is on duty. Do you know where he or she is stationed? Get a map, lay your hand on it as you pray; anoint it with oil and hold fast to God's promises. Pray for the enemy to be confused, to be exhausted, to lose heart in the war, to desert their army.
Pray for God to assign angels to protect, and bring success to every mission your soldier participates in. Be aware of time zones and pray at the strategic times when they may be most vulnerable. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how and when to pray and give you the ability to pray fervently and effectively.
Remember when God said this to Ezekiel: "I searched for a man…who should build up the wall and stand in the gap before me…but I found no one."? (Ezekiel 22:30) Is God searching for someone to stand in the gap for your soldier? Don't let it be said that he found no one. Raise your right hand and volunteer.
Note: I am interested in stories of God's sovereign protection and/or miracles over our military personnel. If you know of an incident, please write me. I am considering these episodes for a future book.