Military Prayer

A Soldier’s Prayer

Posted by on Dec 13, 2013 in Military Prayer | Comments Off on A Soldier’s Prayer

Salvationist Peter Houghton bravely served God and others in the trenches of the First World War.

November 11, 2013

Peter Houghton was a young Salvationist from Galt, Ont., who served in the trenches of the First World War. This excerpt from R.G. Moyles’ new book, Glory! Hallelujah!: The Innovative Evangelism of Early Canadian Salvationists, shows the impact Houghton had on those who fought alongside him. Originally recorded in the March 4, 1916, issue of The War Cry, the story is told from the perspective of a fellow soldier as he recovered from wounds in a hospital in London, Ont. 

A Soldier's Prayer

Peter was a member of The Salvation Army. We expected he’d be a kind of joy-killer in the trenches. Beneath his uniform he wore a red flannel shirt with the letters “S.A.” on it. He carried a small Bible in his tunic.

But Peter didn’t turn out to be a joy-killer. We soldiers are a rough lot, but he mixed with us like a brother. When we swore he had nothing to say about it. Only he didn’t swear. When we gambled, Peter preached us no long sermons. Only he didn’t gamble. When we stole each other’s clothes, he had no remarks to make about morals. Only he left the other guy’s duds alone. Peter preached only by example.

Peter prayed every night. We thought he’d quit it when he got to the trenches. I’ll never forget our first night. The water was well over our ankles.

In this water was a mess of discarded equipment, decayed food and dead rats that the boys killed with their rifle stocks. Peter flopped down on his knees, folded his dirty, powder-stained hands together and asked God to save us from fire and sword, from the pestilence that flieth by noon-day.

I remember that Peter had just got to the part about fire and sword, when a shell cut a blazing path of scarlet through the blue-black of the trench and lit up Peter just as though he were kneeling by the big drum back on the street corner in Galt. Peter never stirred, but stayed right there soaking up the water in that foul, stinking trench. He never stirred when the boys twittered.

Every night Peter prayed. He cared no more for jeer than he did for an enemy bayonet. We knew all the time that Peter was brave, but we didn’t think he was quite as brave as he turned out to be.

Peter folded his dirty, powder-stained hands together and asked God to save us.

Peter never let a married man, or a man who had a mother back home depending on him, go on a ration party if he was free to take his place. Peter would serve on equally dangerous listening patrols, or gruesome burial parties, any odd time he was asked to—and lots of times when he wasn’t.

Peter’s face had a kind of beam that seemed to cheer you up. You felt when you looked at Peter’s face that somewhere men weren’t killing each other. Peter’s face gave you a new heart.

But it was at the second battle of Ypres that Peter showed the stuff that was in him. [You know] all about that fight, the long charge over the fields and the charges where we locked bayonets with the enemy. Peter was there up front all the time. He fought, but he never cursed.

In that particular charge we found we were up against machine guns. A machine gun mows men down as a scythe mows down hay.

Peter fought no more that day. Instead he volunteered to the far more dangerous task of going with a stretcher over that shell-swept field and gathering up the wounded, whose groans we heard all around us.

People back home think of stretcher-bearers as in some way exempt from the fire. But they aren’t. They are more exposed to it. They go out in the open spaces where the worst of the hell is and pick up the wounded men. They wear no insignia, no cross, no red band, nothing to distinguish them.

I went forward into more charges that day, and I can’t tell in detail about Peter’s coming and goings across that field of fire. But I know he got dozens of wounded men out of that hell, and into the dressing station.

He did so much and risked so much that day that we cheered him when he came back to our trench. He was mud-stained, drenched to the skin from hauling men across that dirty ditch which divided the field, bloody from head to foot where the wounds of those he saved had gushed over him like fountains, but his face shone with the beam that seemed to light up the whole man.

Peter just smiled kind of modest like, and went to work making the wounded and dying men in our trench easier.

Peter got the Distinguished Conduct Medal for what he did. The best part, though, is what happened when we made Peter take his turn for a snatch of sleep in the dugout.

Peter dropped down to his knees in the soggy stream of crimson in the bottom of that foul ditch, and when he had finished about the fire and sword, the pestilence that walketh at noon-day, and all the rest of his usual evening prayer, something unusual happened. No one snickered.

Glory! Hallelujah! is available through Supplies and Purchasing, 416-422-6100;;

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Life in Enemy Territory

Posted by on Dec 11, 2013 in Military Prayer | Comments Off on Life in Enemy Territory


By Army Capt. Michael N. Frese,
Forward Operating Base Andar,

Editor’s Note: Chaplain Frese is attached to a light infantry unit of 900 soldiers and 300 civilians spread across five bases in the rugged territory of eastern Afghanistan. As the sole chaplain, he travels regularly to provide worship services, Bible studies and pastoral counseling for 1,200 people.

LifeinEnemyTerritoryWe are in constant danger of roadside bombs, rocket attacks and ambushes, and we experience between three and eight of these events daily. The perils of death and destruction surround my soldiers and me for the entire 12-month deployment. I count it as a privilege and duty to face the dangers of war with the soldiers in my unit. 

“The comfort that Christ gives in Word and Sacrament takes on deeper meaning to soldiers under constant threat of death.”

There is nothing like death to focus us more clearly on life. In this dangerous environment, I am God’s mouthpiece to share with them the life that Christ has won for them on the cross. Many of my soldiers have been wounded by either bullets or shrapnel, and three have been killed in action. It is only by God’s grace and mercy that we have not had more deaths. In the flash of a moment, a soldier’s life can change dramatically. Battlefield injuries are traumatic. Many people are affected by the injury of an individual soldier — his fellow buddies who were with him on the battlefield, the medics who attend to him, his commanding officers who planned the mission where he was injured and his family and friends back home.

In the aftermath of a casualty, my duty is to be there to pray and talk with the wounded soldiers who come into our aid station. Reading passages of Scripture with them is comforting to the wounded and the medics who attend to them. It is also important for me to hear their account of the incident. Retelling their story to me is a necessary step in processing the traumatic event. They have to come to terms with their fears, perceptions, thoughts, memories, feelings and any regrets that they now experience. That’s my duty to them — to put them on the healthy road of emotional recovery. In the anguish of seeking meaning out of misery, I endeavor to show my soldiers an eternal perspective. I attempt to bring their gaze away from the horror and destruction of that moment to the hope of life beyond suffering, pain and death. In short, I preach to them about the One who rescues from sin and every evil. 

“I pray that you would keep me this day also from sin and every evil.”

In worship services and in personal discussions, soldiers in this environment need to hear that God has not abandoned them. I share with them the words of St. Paul, that neither death, principalities, things present, things to come, homesickness, nor war can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus, our Lord (Rom. 8:38–39). The consolation of God’s love and grace in Christ comforts trembling hearts. When danger is a constant threat, they need to hear that Christ is with them more constantly, more surely. They need to hear that in the midst of physical and emotional affliction, only Christ offers true solace in the promise of His salvation: “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).

The words of Luther’s Morning Prayer, which I have uttered since childhood, take on new meaning in the context of an intense deployment: “I pray that you would keep me this day also from sin and every evil.” God truly is gracious. He is merciful. He is present in every need. I thank Him for using me to show mercy and bring hope to soldiers while living and working in enemy territory.

“In short, I preach to them about the One who rescues from sin and every evil.”

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Mountains and PTSD

Posted by on Dec 10, 2013 in Military Prayer | Comments Off on Mountains and PTSD

Psalm 121:1, “I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from?”

The faith of former Army Ranger Nate Self was sorely tested on a mountain top in Afghanistan. The PTSD that followed tested his will to live. In the end, he chose life over death and drew on his faith and the support of his church for strength and recovery. Now, he exhorts us to bring whatever we have to minister to the military in our midst and the fight against the darkness of combat trauma and PTSD.

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Chaplain Corps Can’t Speak About God?

Posted by on Dec 4, 2013 in Military Prayer | Comments Off on Chaplain Corps Can’t Speak About God?



An Air Force video saluting first sergeants — produced by an Air Force Chaplain — was removed by order of the Pentagon because it mentions the word “God,” even though it was never intended as required viewing.  The top brass fears the video may be offensive to atheists or Muslims, but they are unconcerned about whether or not Christians are offended by the censorship of exercising free speech and freedom of religion.  The video, based on the “So God Made a Farmer” commentary written and narrated by the late Paul Harvey, was recently updated and used in a Dodge Ram Super Bowl ad.  The first sergeant tribute was created by a Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst chaplain as a poem, and later turned into a video, “So God Created a First Sergeant.”  Chaplain Corps leadership at the Army-Navy-Air Force installation approved the video prior to its publication.  Shortly after it was posted on YouTube it was brought to the attention of the Pentagon.

The Chief of the Air Force News Service Division stated incorrectly in an email, “Proliferation of religion is not allowed in the Air Force or military.  How would an Agnostic, Atheist or Muslim serving in the military take this video?”  The chief added, ”I would not recommend using this video at all.”  In addition to the objection against the video’s repeated use of the name “God,” the chief found the opening lines objectionable because they referenced the “eighth day.”  He remarked, “The choice of ‘On the Eighth day’ verbiage to begin this video is highly suggestive from the book of Genesis in the Bible and has Christian overtones.”  Of course, the chief failed to grasp the fact that Genesis is also a sacred text in Judaism and Islam.

Both the Pentagon and the Air Force News Service Division have gone beyond the Constitution, restricting both free speech and the right to the free exercise of religion.  While proselytization is prohibited by the Uniform Code of Military Justice, there is no prohibition in discussing religion freely.  Because the video was not mandated as part of any required program, the Air Force was not endorsing religion.  The fact that it was produced by a chaplain, and approved by Chaplain Corps leadership, demonstrates that the Pentagon is restricting the rights of both chaplains and airmen.  The decision to censor the video comes less than a week following an incident at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, where the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, led by Mikey Weinstein, demanded the removal of a picture it deemed “offensive.”

An Airman, who asked not to be identified because he feared being disciplined, spoke with Fox News about the removal of the video.  He stated, “It’s extremely frustrating.  The Air Force is living in fear of Mikey Weinstein.  If our chaplains cannot speak the name of God, let alone Christ, why have them?”  I’ve towed the company line for years but this has pushed me too far to sit quietly while personal liberties are trampled upon.”  The Airman said in recent months they have been reminded that they cannot proselytize (which is true) and they cannot share their faith on the installation (which is false, but is being pushed as “true” by many within the Air Force structure).

The Air Force is facing a severe crisis.  Americans need to defend the rights of Airmen who live to defend the rights of others since the brass apparently has no brass.

So God Created a First Sergeant

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Miracle in Afghanistan

Posted by on Dec 3, 2013 in Military Prayer, Stories | Comments Off on Miracle in Afghanistan

By Chaplain, Captain, Rod Gilliam, US Army
The Military Chaplain Magazine

ChaplainOn the night of Christmas Eve 2012, we had a near tragedy hit our ranks. Four of our Soldiers were shot by an insurgent who disguised himself as an Afghan Soldier. Three of the Soldiers wounds were superficial. One of them was quite severe. This young Soldier was shot in the carotid artery, his right lung, his stomach and his femoral artery. By all appearances when he was brought to the aid station he would not live past the operating table. I stood in awe of the combat surgeon, (a young female doctor who just completed her resident training). She went into motion helping this Soldier in a way that I have never witnessed before and I doubt I will ever witness again. She instantly removed his clavicle bone and repaired the bleeding artery in his neck; she then bypassed his thoracic nerve and removed his lung that had been shot. She then quickly repaired the damage done to the Soldier’s stomach and finally, as she worked on the Soldier’s femoral artery there was a line of Soldiers outside the aide station that were of this Soldiers blood type – donating blood to keep the Soldier alive on the operating table. By the time this Soldier was airlifted out and sent to a location that he could receive higher care – he had gone through 43 pints of blood. A senior medic told me that “typically if an individual goes through more than 10 pints of blood his chances for survival are greatly diminished.” It was nothing short of a miracle that this Soldier lived.

When it was over the surgeon quietly and deliberately walked over to me and asked if “she could spend some time with me alone at the chapel,” I quickly agreed. As we arrived and the surgeon could see that no one else was watching she broke down and became very emotional. What she told me next shocked me. “Chaplain, as you know, I am a brand new surgeon just out of residency. My experience on the operating table is very limited. I saw all of the Soldiers, many of them his close friends and buddies – anxiously waiting outside to see what the outcome would be for their friend. I wanted to show my staff and all the Soldiers around that everything was under control. But I felt out of control on the inside. I cried out to the Lord, ‘Please, please God, don’t let this young man die on my table! Direct my hands so that he will live!”


“Chaplain,” she said, “what happened next was incredible. I felt this instant surge of peace in my spirit and clarity of thought in my mind. And then it was if God just started guiding my hands through the wounds of that young man’s body. I can’t explain it but I know that it was real.” She was a Christian believer so we both took time out to pray, thank God, and give Him the glory for that young man’s survival. In the weeks to come I learned that several high medical specialists like senior thoracic and lung surgeons who had worked their crafts for 30 plus years had called her in to their medical review boards to see how a young surgeon out of residency could have performed such high level procedures so flawlessly. All of those professionals conceded that if she had not treated with the speed and proficiency that she had had – this young man would be dead today. But they remained puzzled at the level she performed these procedures – it was only a level that a specialist worked who had been in those respective specialties for many years. She has since gone on and written about her procedures in many medical journals.


Gilliam Family Reunited

When I returned home to Fort Carson I was able to meet this young Soldier and his parents who had flown from Walter Reed Medical Center for a special Veterans Day celebration on the post of Fort Carson. I was able to share with this Soldier and his family – the incredible things that happened that night in the combat operating room. None of them were aware of the entire story. I was able to further say to this wounded warrior, “I hope that you realize that God has given you the very precious gift of an extended life. Never squander that gift, but use every day that you are breathing on this earth to give God the glory, to share your life as a gift to share with others. It is now your calling.” The wounded Soldier and his parents were so overcome with emotion that they could barely speak; but they agreed with what I was saying and they were very happy (and grateful) to close our meeting with a prayer of thanksgiving for the gift of his (their son’s) life.” If every day God sends a least one Soldier or military spouse my way that I can, in His name, make their day a little brighter – then I have had a good day. May God richly bless all who call upon His name In the United States of America.

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On a Wing, But Not On a Prayer

Posted by on Nov 27, 2013 in Military Prayer | Comments Off on On a Wing, But Not On a Prayer

Air Force Academy makes homage to God optional

By ,


While there may be no atheists in foxholes, the Air Force Academy has decided there will be no mandatory God in the heavens.

The academy — at 7,258 feet above sea level, the closest of all the nation’s military schools to God’s realm — has long had a reputation as the most Christian of the nation’s military learning institutions.

But the Colorado Springs, Colo., academy has decided to make the “so help me God” coda to its cadet oath optional after a complaint from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.

The academy’s original honor code dates to 1959 and reads:

We will not lie, steal or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does.

But it was modified following a 1984 cheating scandal to read:

We will not lie, steal or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does. Furthermore, I resolve to do my duty and to live honorably, so help me God.

The phrase “so help me God” was tacked on “to add more seriousness to the oath,” according to a former faculty member. Apparently, there was a subset of Air Force cadets who would cheat absent God as a wingman.

“Here at the Academy, we work to build a culture of dignity and respect, and that respect includes the ability of our cadets, airmen and civilian airmen to freely practice and exercise their religious preference – or not,” academy superintendent Lieut. General Michelle D. Johnson, said in a statement. “So, in the spirit of respect, cadets may or may not choose to finish the Honor Oath with ‘So help me God.’”

Cadets take the oath at the end of their basic training, and annually thereafter before graduating as Air Force 2nd lieutenants after four years. Similar oaths at the Army’s West Point and Navy’s academy at Annapolis have no such religious component.

Opinions were mixed among posters over at the independent Air Force Times newspaper.

“About time,” poster Eric Taylor noted. “Pledging to some mythological being is so 2000 years ago.”

Not so fast, countered Paul Hartnagel. “I guarantee that when they flame out and start going to ground at mach 1,” he said, “they WILL be calling on God.”

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