I'm pleased to have fellow AWSA sister and AMG author Jocelyn Green as my guest blogger today.
Does Prayer Make a Difference in Times of War?
Today, like the rest of you, I honor our nation’s veterans. I happen to be married to one of them, and soon we’ll be dining out where Rob will get a free “Blooming Onion” as thanks for his service to our country. It seems a little funny to me, but we still appreciate it.
As a former military wife, I also appreciate the fact that behind every veteran is a family. And when that service member is sent to war, the loved ones at home go through their own personal battles as well against unseen enemies of fear, premature grief, anxiety. These emotions are not unique to the military family, but they are certainly intensified during times of war.
Casualties are a guarantee. Wives will be widowed. Children will be orphaned. Parents will become childless. This much we know, for this is war. What we don’t know is when and where death will strike. So, does prayer really make a difference? Below, Navy wife Leeana Tankersley shares her heart on the matter in this excerpt from Faith Deployed . . . Again: More Daily Encouragement for Military Wives (Moody Publishers 2011).
But I cry to you for help, O LORD;
in the morning my prayer comes before you.
Why, O LORD, do you reject me
and hide your face from me? Psalm 88:13-14
I’ve had an on-again-off-again relationship with prayer. At times, prayer has felt like the only lifeline I’ve had left. Other times, it has felt as ineffective as screaming into a tin can with a string tied to it.
I’ve had to give myself permission to wonder if prayer even makes a difference, to question whether or not my pleas actually turn the hand of God in any direction at all. Is God so cryptic and callous that He asks us to pray but then doesn’t actually take our prayers into consideration?
The Iraq war started when my husband and I were engaged. Without notice, he was off the radar, and I had no idea where he was or when I’d hear from him again. I remember the night the war started, listening to the radio reports of a helicopter down in the Gulf. The flight had originated from the last place I had heard from him, so of course I assumed the worst.
Prayer, in that wretched moment, seemed like the only possible answer and—at the very same time—a complete and utter mystery to me.
People send their loved ones off to war every day, praying for their safe return, and they never see them again. How do we reconcile such an inconvenient reality? My prayers may not save my husband. So, then, why do they matter?
I turn to the Psalms for some help with these types of questions. The Psalms are some of the rawest prayers in print. Particularly Psalm 88. It’s an outcry. I love that. And it’s questioning the very validity of a prayer life. I love that, too.
Kathleen Norris has a great description of prayer. She sees it as an incessant beginning. Every morning we get up, and our prayer life begins again. We never conquer it, achieve it, complete it. Prayer, she writes, is “being ourselves before God” (The Cloister Walk, 134, 282).
I’m trying to embrace this notion of beginning again and again and again. Going back to God, turning toward him, returning to him—even as that feels repetitive and unproductive. I’m trying to accept the fact that prayer doesn’t move along in a linear fashion, accomplishing as it goes. It moves in a spiral, drilling down into us like a jackhammer tilling up concrete.
Some days I can just manage to breathe in God’s direction and somehow, in the sacredness of that unspoken spoken, he breathes back. And, I’ve found, we can go a long way like that. Sometimes we wish prayer to be the rudder that changes the course of our entire lives. Yet, I wonder if it’s our hearts—through the small spokens, the actual truths, the directed breaths—that end up changing. And that’s more the point than anything.
Am I making prayer a part of my life? Am I able to be honest with God about my questions and doubts?
God, I’m willing to pray even though I don’t completely understand how it all works. Give me the faith to return to you, each and every day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Veterans, I salute you and your loved ones today and every day. For more encouragement for military wives, visit www.faithdeployed.com.
About the Author:
Jocelyn Green, the wife of a former Coast Guard officer, is an award-winning author, freelance writer and editor. Along with contributing writers, she is the author of Faith Deployed: Daily Encouragement for Military Wives
(Moody 2008), and Faith Deployed…Again: More Daily Encouragement for Military Wives
(Moody 2011). She is also co-author of Battlefields & Blessings: Stories of Faith and Courage from the War in Iraq/Afghanistan
(AMG Publishers 2009). She is the chief editor for www.WivesinBloom.com
, the online magazine of Christian Military Wives (a branch of Christian Military Fellowship) and a contributor to the Web site www.StartMarriageRight.com
. Jocelyn graduated from Taylor University in Upland, Indiana, with a B.A. in English, concentration in writing. She is a frequent speaker at military wife events, women’s church groups, and writers conferences, and is an active member of the Evangelical Press Association, Christian Authors Network, the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and the Military Writers Society of America. Visit her at www.jocelyngreen.com
Readers, Please leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of Jocelyn's book. We will choose a winner at the end of November.