Prayer for my soldier son

This is one of my favorite things ever written. Gen. Douglas MacArthur wrote this prayer for his son.

A Prayer For My Son

Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak, and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid; one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory.

Build me a son whose wishes will not take the place of deeds; a son who will know Thee — and that to know himself is the foundation stone of knowledge.

Lead him, I pray, not in the path of ease and comfort, but under the stress and spur of difficulties and challenge. Here let him learn to stand up in the storm; here let him learn compassion for those who fail.

Build me a son whose heart will be clear, whose goals will be high; a son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men; one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past.

And after all these things are his, give him, I pray, enough of a sense of humor, so that he may always be serious, yet never take himself too seriously. Give him humility, so that he may always remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, and the meekness of true strength.

Then I, his father, will dare to whisper, “I have not lived in vain.”

An absolute classic. I get a lot of comments on this, and if you enjoy it, then chances are good you’ll also appreciate this piece, called “Prayer of an Unknown Confederate Soldier.”

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Despite living in the shadow of the largest training base in the country, I didn’t often think about the military. I was grateful, in a general sort of way, for the “sacrifices they made,” but I seldom thought beyond the surface about what those sacrifices were. Because I sometimes met their spouses and children at church or in the community, I knew military personnel are sometimes separated from their families. But I never understood all that entailed. I knew “soldiering” came with its own set of dangers, but my superficial knowledge of the risks our military undertakes every day on our behalf was cursory, at best.

All that changed when my daughter married a member of the United States Navy. Instantly I became eager to learn as much as possible about life in the military. My son-in-law was in the middle of his first tour of duty and was out to sea as often as he was “home.” Even “home” had changed. No longer was it in the next city, or state, or even across the country. Home for him and my daughter was a rented house in a foreign country half a world away.

Because I love my new son-in-law, I now think about the military every day. I pray for its members. I pray early in the morning, late at night, and during the night watches when something awakens me and my thoughts go immediately to him. Perhaps the Lord has awakened me so I can pray, I think. So I pray. 

Perhaps you, too, love a service member. Or maybe, because you’ve served in the past or know someone who has, you understand the sacrifices these men and women make to guard our safety and preserve our freedom.

I invite you to join me as I pray for the men and women who serve. 

A Prayer for Soldiers and Troops:

Father, thank you for the privilege of praying for our service men and women. Like Aaron and Hur held up Moses’ arms when he grew weary in battle, we, too, can support those we love and appreciate. 

Some serve far from home. We may not even know where they are, but you do. If they’re in harm’s way, protect them.  Surround them with your angels like you surrounded Elijah and the children of Israel with your fiery hosts. Shield them from those who seek to do them harm. Thwart the plans of the enemy. 

Some are spiritually far away from you. Maybe the horrors they’ve witnessed have caused them to question your love, care, or even existence. Reveal yourself to them in a personal, mighty way. Like Saul on the road to Damascus, help them come face to face with the risen Christ and commit their lives to follow you. Remove whatever stumbling block that keeps them from wholeheartedly surrendering to you. 

For those who already have a relationship with you, strengthen their resolve to honor you with their lives. Connect them with other believers. Draw them to your Word every day. Answer their prayers. Use them as a beacon of hope in this dark world. Expand their witness and draw many around them into a saving knowledge of you because of the way they live. Give them courage to speak the truth unapologetically and stand for what is right, even when it costs them. Enable them to sacrificially serve others. Glorify yourself through them.

When they are afraid, grant them your peace. Like a cool breeze on a hot day, send your quiet confidence to wash over them. In intense situations, where they must make life-impacting, split-second decisions, may their heart beat calm and steady. Don’t allow fear to draw them down paths they shouldn’t walk or situations they should avoid. Remind them to cry out to you and experience your deliverance.

When their hearts ache with loneliness, be their constant companion. During the night watches when the world is asleep and they stand guard, bolster them with your presence. If they find their home in you, Lord, it won’t matter where they lay their head; you will be there. Prompt them to seek your presence. And when the communication channels are down, and they can’t call home, remind them they can always call upon you. Help them feel your presence as you walk beside them.

Whether they are married or single, keep their hearts, minds, and bodies pure. If they are separated from their spouse, help them remain true to the promises they made on their wedding day. Protect them from anyone who tries to lure them away from those promises. Help them seek, instead, wholesome, safe companionship. Enable their love to grow stronger despite the forces that threaten it. Prompt them to invest in their marriage, doing whatever it takes to help their spouse feel loved and treasured. Don’t allow laziness, bitterness, or apathy to creep into their relationship. 

Give them the resolve to turn off, turn away, and stay away from the destructive evil of pornography. Remind them “No temptation has seized (them) except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let (them) be tempted beyond what (they) can bear. But when (they) are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that (they) can stand up under it” (1 Cor. 10:13). Help them find and take that way of escape. 

Guard their health, Father. They seldom sleep enough to feel fully rested. Be their refreshment. Multiply the effects of limited sleep and opportunities to work out. It’s hard to eat right and exercise when options are limited in the field, in the air, or on a ship. Help them make wise choices about how to care for their body. Protect them from the destructive forces of drugs and alcohol.

Lord, you promise in James 1:7 that if we lack wisdom, we can ask, and you will give it to us liberally. Give our service members wisdom for every task, decision, and situation they encounter. Grant them supernatural insight to know when to speak and when to be silent, when to act and when to pray. Whatever they encounter, may they hear your voice in their ears saying, “This is the way, walk in it.”

And Father, help us, those who love them, to trust you more. Protect our hearts from fear and grow our faith. Hear our prayers, as Daniel prayed in Daniel 9:18, not because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. 

In the strong name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

Lori Hatcher is a blogger, inspirational speaker, and author of the Christian Small Publisher’s 2016 Book of the Year, Hungry for God … Starving for Time, Five-Minute Devotions for Busy Women. A Toastmasters International contest-winning speaker, Lori’s goal is to help busy women connect with God in the craziness of everyday life. She especially loves small children, soft animals, and chocolate. You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God. . . Starving for Time. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter (@lorihatcher2) or Pinterest (Hungry for God).

Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstock/Zinkevych

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