Posts Tagged "Military Prayer"


Posted by on Oct 8, 2013 in Military Prayer | Comments Off on A SOLDIER SAVED ON THE TARMAC: A STORY FROM AFGHANISTAN


Every soldier has a story. Some cannot be shared, others are never told. But the one you’re about to read from CH (CPT) Pete Stone in Afghanistan is one that should be shouted from the mountaintop.

By Mars Hill Global

As a chaplain, I’m forever amazed at how Jesus gives us opportunities to share his love, even in the most difficult places. The challenge is being ready when you hear his voice. This soldier’s story I’m about to share with you is overwhelming, but he bravely asked me to share it with you here.

I was standing on the airport tarmac waiting for a helicopter ride back to my base after several days of ministry on the front lines. My ride was late. So I waited. As I did, my senses were rattled by the whine of engines, the thump of helicopter blades, and shouts of men around me.

Amid the chaos, I noticed a young man I had been speaking with for a few months, Staff Sergeant (SSG) Livingston. His home situation is somewhat tragic, largely having to do with a teenage daughter who struggles with severe personality disorders and a wife who is sadly dealing with health issues.

Livingston is one of our nation’s great soldiers. He has helped provide freedom to us through his staggering five combat deployments in only a few short years. But unlike his previous tours, this one is different. It’s taking a toll on his life that even this seasoned veteran is not used to.

A soldier needs time to recover after deployment. Time to rest. Time to heal and reconnect. But he didn’t have the chance this time around. And with the heartaches of home adding to this burden, this soldier was in need of help.

We spoke briefly, and then he started talking. Once he began, it was like the floodgates opened up. He shared about his troubled childhood, the pain, and still-open wounds.

After about 40 minutes, I couldn’t take it any more. I was overwhelmed and wanted to find an excuse to walk away, but then I heard God whisper softly in my ear: You’ve been working with this guy for a long time, Pete. You know he’s spiritually sensitive. You’ve earned his trust. This is the right time to ask him what he’s waiting for.

So I listened. I blocked out the noise, took a deep breath and asked him, “What are you waiting for? You are carrying an impossible weight around. When are you going to let Jesus come in, take possession of your life and start handling this for you?”

I waited for a response. Then he said, “My pop says I need to get saved, but I’m not sure what that really means.”

“This is important,” I said. “I’d love to explain it if you want to listen.” He nodded.

I spent the next 15 minutes explaining a simple faith. I spoke about the good news that Jesus suffered on our behalf, and in return gave us his own righteousness so we could stand justified before God.

“That’s why it’s called grace,” I said. “And the change comes when the life of Jesus becomes your own life. The change will come through his power.”

Livingston listened intently, until we were suddenly interrupted by screams of urgency— “We’ve got a civilian gunshot wound at the gate. We need to get the stretcher out there now!” shouted a medic. Immediately people all around us started to move, grabbing medical supplies and running toward the gates. It was a frantic moment and one that diverted my attention.

But my friend didn’t flinch. He stood firm and barely noticed what was happening around him. So, I continued: “Do you want to have this in your life? Do you want this?”

“Yeah, chappy,” he eagerly replied. “But I don’t know how. What do I do?” We moved around the bunker to a place of privacy. As men around us rushed to save a wounded man’s life, we asked Jesus to save another.

As soon as we finished praying he started sobbing. This warrior . . . this patriot . . . this man of valor . . . this broken family man let Jesus in.

Article from Mars Hill:

Share Button
Read More

Priests threatened with arrest if they minister to military during shutdown

Posted by on Oct 7, 2013 in Military Prayer | Comments Off on Priests threatened with arrest if they minister to military during shutdown

By Alex Pappas, Political Reporter
The Daily Caller
October 4, 2013

In a stunning development, some military priests are facing arrest if they celebrate mass or practice their faith on military bases during the federal government shutdown.

“With the government shutdown, many [government service] and contract priests who minister to Catholics on military bases worldwide are not permitted to work – not even to volunteer,” wrote John Schlageter, the general counsel for the Archdiocese for the Military Services USA, in an op-ed this week. “During the shutdown, it is illegal for them to minister on base and they risk being arrested if they attempt to do so.”

According to its website, the Archdiocese for the Military Services “provides the Catholic Church’s full range of pastoral ministries and spiritual services to those in the United States Armed Forces.”

In his piece, Schlageter worries about this restriction as Sunday nears. “If the government shutdown continues through the weekend, there will be no Catholic priest to celebrate Mass this Sunday in the chapels at some U.S. military installations where non-active-duty priests serve as government contractors,” he wrote.

Because of the lack of active-duty Catholic chaplains, the military relies on hiring civilian priests to serve as government service and contract ministers. Those civilian priests are not allowed on the bases during a shutdown, Schlageter wrote.

One Republican lawmaker on the House Intelligence Committee told The Daily Caller on Friday that this “crosses a constitutional line.”

“The constitutional rights of those who put their lives on the line for this nation do not end with a government slowdown,” Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo, a graduate of West Point and an Army veteran, said in a Friday statement. ”It is completely irresponsible for the president to turn his back on every American’s First Amendment rights by furloughing military contract clergy.”

Added Pompeo: “The President’s strategy during the slowdown, just as during the sequestration, is to create as much pain as possible. However, this action crosses a constitutional line of obstructing every U.S. service member’s ability to practice his or her religion.”

Read more:

Share Button
Read More

War Veterans Turning to Church

Posted by on Oct 4, 2013 in Military Prayer | Comments Off on War Veterans Turning to Church

Religious News Service

(RNS) A new study has found that American veterans who had a negative experience serving during World War II attend church more frequently today than those who were less troubled by their service.

The study also found that when service members were fearful in combat, they reported prayer was a better motivator for getting them through it than several other factors, including the broader goals of the war.

VJ Day – World War II. Religion News Service file photo

Researchers say the study, which will be published in a future edition of the Journal of Religion and Health, has implications for health professionals, counselors and clergy who work with veterans with more recent service in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The most important thing is that the more veterans disliked the war, the more religious they were 50 years later,” said Craig Wansink, a professor of religious studies at Virginia Wesleyan College and co-author of the study with his brother, Brian Wansink, a professor of consumer behavior at Cornell University.

“And the takeaway is that for people who work with combat veterans, if veterans have had a bad experience, it is clear that one alternative that has helped people understand the world or find a common community has been religion.”

Using the front of a jeep for an altar, Roman Catholic chaplain Joseph Kenny celebrates Mass for men of the 3rd Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division, before they depart France for the field in Belgium, January 6, 1945. Photo courtesy U.S. Arm Chaplain Museum, Fort Jackson, South Carolina

The study, titled “Are There Atheists in Foxholes? Combat Intensity and Religious Behavior,” also found that:

  • As combat became more frightening, the percentage of soldiers who reported praying rose from 42 percent to 72 percent.
  • After the war, soldiers who faced heavy combat attended church 21 percent more often if they felt their war experience was negative; soldiers who described their war experience as positive attended 26 percent less often.
  • In general, religious behavior was high among all World War II veterans surveyed — approximately 69 percent were church members and reported attending services slightly more than three times per month.

The study was conducted with both old and new data, including data collected from U.S. Army service members in the Pacific in 1944 and from surveys the authors sent to surviving veterans more than 50 years later.

Brian Wansink said that while it is not surprising that service members in the heat of battle prayed — World War II journalist Ernie Pyle made the famous quip about atheists in foxholes that’s in the study’s name — it is important that those who work with veterans not overlook the impact of faith during and after combat.

“Religious involvement could help these people,” he said. “One reason it may have been so effective in the past is that religion is a very social experience, and that might be healing of itself because these are people who developed strong social bonds with their units and strong commitments to their comrades. That might be missing from current strategies in helping recent soldiers cope with stress.”

Jewish military chaplain Captain Robert S. Marcus conducts outdoor services at the Siegfried Line in Germany, amid “dragon’s teeth” ani-tank barriers, on November 3, 1944. Photo courtesy U.S. Army Chaplain Museum, Fort Jackson, South Carolina

The authors spent 12 years working on the study — three times as long as the U.S. involvement in World War II — and were influenced by respect for their father, a member of the so-called “Greatest Generation” who fought in the war.

“The takeaway for us is that the best thing you can do on Memorial Day is call that father or great uncle who is a veteran and wish him a happy Memorial Day,” Brian Wansink said.










Share Button
Read More

Health & Prayer

Posted by on Oct 2, 2013 in Military Prayer | Comments Off on Health & Prayer

By Josh Clark
How Stuff Works, Discovery

As science investigates connections between the mind and the body, some scientists have found that a person’s faith can help him or her live a longer, healthier life [source:Yang]. Prayer may lower blood pressure and heart rate, both of which can contribute to a more virileimmune system [source:Bernardi, et al.].

Other studies have found that people who are religiously active tend to be healthier. This may be due to the power of prayer, but it could also be explained by a tendency toward clean living, as many religions call upon their devotees to foreswear health risks like alcoholcigarettes and casual sex. In addition, people active in their communities of faith may receive the help of social bonds within their religious groups. One study at the University of California – Berkeley factored in smoking and other lifestyle choices and still found that religious people have less risk for disease and death [source: Yang]. Inside the scientific community and out, many accept that praying can prove beneficial for a person’s health.

While praying for oneself may provide some health benefit, intercessory or distant prayer is another matter. Intercessory prayer (IP) is praying for a higher power to intercede on behalf of another person, usually for recovery from a health crisis. Distant prayer is a form of intercessory prayer in which someone prays for a person whom he or she has never met, often as a public request through a church or other institution of faith. The belief that this kind of prayer has any kind of effect on a person’s health invites scorn from much of the scientific community.

Scientific study on intercessory prayer has delivered mixed results, and those on each side of the debate embrace the results that support their beliefs. On one side are those who believe that things which can’t be proven via the scientific method doesn’t exist. On the other side are those who believe in the power of prayer — whether science can prove it or not.

But why is it such a contentious issue? According to a study at the University of Rochester, as many as 85 percent of people suffering from disease pray in addition to receiving medical treatment. Prayer is the number one complementary medicine for Americans, more than vitamins, herbs or therapeutic exercise like yoga. If it makes someone feel better — even if can’t be proven scientifically — what harm does prayer pose?

The notion that we humans possess a capability to heal others simply by using our minds — or by calling upon a higher power to intercede — flies in the face of science. But in the pursuit of the truth, researchers will investigate it scientifically. With so many people relying on prayer, scientists have a responsibility to determine whether it is helpful or harmful to people.

Photo Credit:

Share Button
Read More

Does Faith Make A Difference?

Posted by on Oct 1, 2013 in Military Prayer | Comments Off on Does Faith Make A Difference?

Editor, ‘The Military Bible’ and ‘The Manual for Spiritual Fitness’
Huffington Post

Soldier praying

Suicide rates in the Army continue to challenge all who serve our great Nation. Last year’s record breaking numbers point to the disturbing dilemma that continues to this hour. This is disturbing because there is no institution in the world that does more in the effort to prevent suicide than the US Military. With multiple agencies, programs and events, suicide prevention remains a top priority within leadership in every branch of the Military. Excellent programs such as Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) and Ask, Care Escort (ACE) Training touches every serving Soldier and is made available for families and DA Civilians. Chaplains, Chaplain Assistants and other health-care professionals are continuously engaged in an effort to educate, prevent and intervene with those who are struggling with suicidal ideation.

However, controversy follows the various efforts to understand and prevent the incalculable loss of human life through suicide. The debate over causes and effects leading to suicide, such as the belief that the contributing stress of combat and deployment as a contributing factor to the sharp rise in Military suicides, has been recently challenged by the Pentagon. Instead, mental illness seems to be a leading indicator of the cause-effect pattern in suicidal behaviors amongst Military personnel. Counterarguments against the Pentagon’s recently released study is sure to revive the intuitive belief that war remains a contributing factor in the depression and despair afflicting many who have been exposed to the horrors of combat and killing.

This belief is grounded in the common understanding that all human life is valued, including that of our enemies. This value often stems from traditional beliefs that include religious definitions of what constitutes an individual human being. One such religious tenet of faith points to persons being “created in the image of God,” suggesting that there is something implicitly sacred about life, and conversely, something profoundly profane about death, especially violent, premature death.

Many who have deployed into combat and have witnessed first-hand the violence and killing that characterizes war often return home with the uncomfortable realization that the value structure they once maintained, and perhaps called “normal,” does not necessarily fit any longer. Re-inhabiting a way of life predating the horrors of combat can be especially difficult once a person has been exposed to the act of killing other human beings. No matter how noble the cause for combat, and there are such noble causes, such horror and trauma permanently impacts those who have a conscious sensitivity about other human beings. How persons survive such readjustments and changes to their own personal world views presents one of the challenges to reclaiming any sense of “normal.” One means of such reclamation is through spirituality and the practice of spiritual disciplines.

Studies suggest that persons who have a religious faith or hope that transcends the personal dark moments characterizing intense psychological pain and despair (“psych-ache”) are better equipped to move beyond those windows of time that might otherwise frame suicidal ideation and subsequent suicidal attempts.

Targeting well-being, happiness, a sense of purpose and hope, these studies overwhelmingly support the existence of coping mechanisms that contribute to better mental health and resiliency for those who maintain and practice their faith.

A recent survey of such studies published by Harold G. Koenig is instructive to any who might question the value of spiritual fitness or resiliency as a component to wholeness and health. In his research, Religion, Spirituality, and Health: The Research and Clinical Implications (2012) he writes; “Those who are depressed, without hope, and with low self-esteem are at greater risk for committing suicide. At least 141 studies have now examined relationships between R/S (i.e. religion and spirituality) and the [sic] suicide variables.” He points out that in the most rigorous of these studies; “80% reported less suicide, fewer suicide attempts, or more negative attitudes toward suicide among the more R/S.”

Four religious variables emerge to suggest possible coping mechanisms for those who suffer depression and psych-ache. In their interviews of more than 37,000 persons in Europe and the U.S., Neelman and Lewis identified a) religious belief, b) attendance within a faith-based community, c) religious upbringing and d) religious or denominational affiliation as strengths for preventative and post-ventative approaches to stress, depression and suicidal ideation.

As an Army Chaplain this does not surprise me. Indeed, there are innumerable instances where Soldiers and family members have sought out religious counsel in times of incredible stress and darkness, finding relief from anxiety, purposelessness and despair to offset suicidal ideation. This has been the driving force behind “spiritual fitness” that comprises one of the five resiliency pillars in the Army’s Comprehensive Resiliency Program. This is the rationale behind the National Bible Association’s Military Bible and Spiritual Fitness Manual as well as the First Responder’s Bible and Spiritual Fitness Manual which attempt to reinforce spiritual resiliency through narrative and teaching. These are but two examples that promote a spiritual resiliency that survives human trauma. The Bible offers numerous stories and tips on becoming spiritually resilient and suicide resistant.

Within the Bible there are seven instances of suicide, six in the Old Testament and one in the New Testament. Within the context of Psalm 88, the despair that surfaces concludes with the author’s realization that his “only companion is darkness.” If that were the final message of the Psalmist, incredible psyche-ache and despair would be the final witness to his story. The following Psalm opens with a surprising note of praise to the Living God whose “Mercies are forever!” and suggests that there is a dawning light after every dark night of the soul. Hope is alive in the place of despair.

In like manner, the Christian hope can be demonstrated through the dynamic of the ‘crucified’ which suggests that there is a purpose that transcends suffering and death, found in the resurrection to new life that speaks against the seeming finality of death. Faith in this context provides a means of “passing through” the dark valley of the shadow of death where even the strongest persons are subject to pain, anxiety and despair. Suicide is trumped by the Crucified. Hope in the love and goodness of a forgiving God brings us closer to normal. Our lives are reclaimed in the process, regardless of how painful, when we believe in a purpose that extends beyond our own finitude. This is an act of faith, an act that typifies all who claim a spiritual core to their being and existence.

From the Huffington Post

Photo Credit:, AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez

Share Button
Read More