Jesus. Real Life.

Whose troops do we pray for?

Once again, Michael Gorman makes a necessary, yet rarely made point; one that deserves more thought than it generally receives.

The church is not tied to any nation-state. It is made up of people from all nations and tongues, and it supercedes our national loyalties and identities. It does not love one nation more than another.  Yes, may God bless America . . . and Guam, and Russia, and Iran, and Japan . . .

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3 responses

  1. T…

    This is my first visit to your blog. I took issue with his post. He sounds smart, but I he over thinks this issue. He thinks he’s being theological, but he’s being unnecessarily divisive and overbearing:

    ******
    While we are cleaning up our speech and leaving those who serve in the military out of prayers in the churches on real estate/in a nation protected by those troops I want to encourage you to remember that several times the Bible in the New Testament honors soldiers.

    In Matt 8:10, Jesus says of Centurion, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith…”

    In Mark’s gospel in vs. 15:39, Mark writes, “And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, ‘Surely this man was the Son of God!'” So Mark doesn’t fail to record the truthful declaration of a soldier.

    In Acts 10:4 God blesses a soldier by sending him an angel with the intention of bringing salvation to this good man; this good SOLDIER man:

    “Cornelius stared at him in fear. ‘What is it, Lord?’ he asked.”

    “The angel answered, ‘Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.'”

    So while you encourage us not to pray for our soldiers, Scripture records that soldiers pray and do good and godly deeds and the Lord honors them for it. He even makes sure their stories are immortalized in scripture.

    I’m aware that this misses the point of your post. And I understand what your are saying that “the church” doesn’t have a military on their side. But we Americans, as messed up and obnoxious as we can be on the world’s stage, are doing good by counting our blessings and thanking God for the freedoms we enjoy because men who are not cowards have put their lives on hold to serve their country; indeed, they’ve laid their lives down. Scripture declares that there is no greater love than a man lay down his life for another.

    So I guess I take issue with your dogmatic and legalistic picking and choosing of who we pray for and who we don’t pray for in our gatherings. If you don’t want to do good (pray) for those who do good for you (serve our nation), that’s good. But don’t presume that there is a theological precedent to NOT pray for our (or your) troops. You’re over-thinking it.
    ******

    November 12, 2009 at 3:25 pm

  2. T Freeman

    Bryon,

    I realize this is a sensitive issue, and I think Michael may have overstated the point (he is a pacifist). But my point was certainly not that we should avoid praying for US troops. On the contrary. The point that I think is really good is that, in all fairness and sincerity, our prayers cannot be limited to one side or nation. I certainly do pray for the safety of US troops and urge others to do so (I have family and friends currently serving), but it is a good reminder that it is just as right to pray for the safety of the children or even the disabled that often get recruited and used as deliverers of bombs in the Mid-East, or for all other people who are suffering in the conflict. We can–and even are commanded to–pray for enemies as well as friends.

    My point is that our prayers, as the church, are rightly for all affected by war, regardless of nationality.

    Perhaps significant to my point, the soldiers honored in the New Testament were those of Israel’s violent oppressor, Rome. The New Testament witnesses stand in scandalous contrast to the Judaism of Jesus’ day by including these Roman soldiers in the Messiah’s redemptive plans. From the Jews standpoint, soldiers of Rome were in the same camp as tax collectors and prostitutes. They were the enemy’s soldiers. The Pharisees never would have honored those men because the Pharisees were more loyal to Israel’s national prominance than to the purposes of God that went beyond their boundaries. Again, please don’t think I’m saying not to pray for soldiers. I’m saying we’re missing it (and in an old way) if our prayers stop with the men and women wearing red, white and blue.

    November 12, 2009 at 4:17 pm

  3. it’s all good, bro’…

    November 12, 2009 at 7:28 pm

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