“Lord, we don’t know how to pray about war.”
The elder’s words during Sabbath prayer time struck home to me. Our nation has forces in several countries as the “war on terror” continues, and there will be further conflicts.
How do we pray about war? Even if a war appears “just and necessary” the idea of praying for the machinery of destruction feels abhorrent. Most of us would not feel comfortable praying, “Lord, strike the enemy completely dead” or “Lord, help our soldiers make a real killing today” or “Lord, may our bombs and tanks wipe out our opposition with maximum impact.”
If we—in the comfort of our homes and churches—feel uncertain on this, how much more acutely must the challenge be felt by Christians who find themselves on the battlefield.
This brings us to the first compelling focus of our prayers in time of war: for the troops who face the battle, and for their leaders. Let us pray for men and women in every branch of the military, in every role and situation. Pray for their courage, their wisdom and their safety; pray that they will reach out to Go and His word for peace in their hearts. Pray that Christians among them will be brave carriers of hope and comfort to others.
Pray for the spouses, children and extended family members of those who serve—and especially for those who will receive the worst news: “killed in action.”
Pray for prisoners of conscience and prisoners of war. Pray for persecuted Christians. Pray that the Spirit of God might rebuke and restrain those who perpetrate evil.
Pray that war, when it comes, will end quickly with minimum loss of life. Pray for humanitarian aid efforts and for aid workers.
Pray for world leaders—for their wisdom, understanding, courage and integrity. If you don’t like their policies, pray for them even more! Scripture is clear that Christians should pray for governmental leaders (1 Tim. 2:1-2; 1Pet. 2:13-14 etc.)
Then there comes the hard part. Jesus said, “pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:44). This is unnatural, counterintuitive. But it is commanded by One who set us an example and makes it possible through the Spirit. Somewhere in our Christian hearts we must make room for our enemies and pray that they might respond to God’s love through Christ Jesus.
War is indeed hell. It is our privilege to pray that something of heaven will come into it.
Excerpted from an article by Ed Gallagher in the July 2003 OUTLOOK.