As we prepare for Memorial Day tomorrow, I decided to share a small speech I gave recently during the National Day of Prayer. I was asked by my pastor to address praying for the military that day and I think this is appropriate as we consider honoring our war dead tomorrow. Here’s what I said:

Scripture tells us in Ecclesiastes 8:3 that there is a time for war and a time for peace. Jesus tells us in Matthew 24:6, “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.” The Book of Revelation tells us there will be a great final battle – a war between good and evil better known to us as Armageddon where Jesus rides a white horse and judges and makes war.

So as Christians, what are we to make of all this talk of war? Doesn’t it seem counterintuitive to pray for our warriors when we profess a faith of peace and love? I turn to scripture for the answer and see God choosing and blessing warriors – Moses, Joshua, Sampson, Debra, Gideon, Saul, David, and others – going so far as to directing them to commit the Harem – a Hebrew word meaning to kill every living thing.

So does God command his warriors to break the sixth Commandment Thou Shall Not Ratsach? No, God does not contradict Himself. You see the Hebrew word Ratsach is not kill as many translations have it. Ratsach is murder – thou shall not murder or take innocent life.  It seems apparent by scripture that God does not view war as Ratsach and thus we are free to see our warriors in the same light. They are not murders or killers – they are soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsman who served their country with honor under the worst circumstances.

Only those who have served understand the cost of that service. Most suffer the emotional wounds of war in silence, only showing their pain in flashes to their families behind the safety of closed doors. For many, the cost of war has been too much – more veterans of the current conflicts have committed suicide than have died in combat. The same is true of our Vietnam generation. And, it may be true of other generations we just don’t know.

Right now as I speak we have American fighting men and women in combat with those who would fly airplanes into our skyscrapers to kill as many of us as they can. It’s a different fight than WWII, Korea, Vietnam, The Gulf War, and the other conflicts, but it’s really not. Pearl Harbor, Omaha Beach, The Ardennes, Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, Inchon, Chosin Reservoir, Pusan, Da Nang, Tet, Ka Sahn, Libya, Panama, Grenada, Kuwait, Kosovo, Mogadishu, the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, Flight 93, Bagdad, Fallujah, Mosul, Kandahar, Kabul, Helmand Province. It’s really all the same. Men and women fighting for the man and woman on their left and their right trying to stay alive so they can come home to their loved ones.

Tonight we gather to pray for our nation and it’s my honor to ask for prayer for our warriors – past and present – and their families.

Let us pray for their safety

Let us pray for their healing – physical, emotional, and spiritual

Let us pray for those who didn’t make it home and their families who grieve

Let us pray for our leaders that they have wisdom before sending our men and women into battle

And let us pray for our nation that it remembers the God under whom we are to be one nation.