God of All Creation:
We give you thanks for today’s ceremony which brings us together as members and friends of the 1-44 Air Defense Artillery BN. As Soldiers, we pray that you will always help us to be aware of our need for your care and protection in both the calm of peace and the terror of war. We are grateful for the outstanding work of this Battalion in its deployment, its leaders and all its Soldiers. We pray that you will continue to protect us as individuals, to protect our families, to protect our Battalion, and protect our nation which we have pledged to defend with our lives. Let us savor the satisfaction of our accomplishment and the opportunity of service on behalf of our country. May the honor bestowed upon us today challenge each of us to serve the cause of freedom with renewed commitment and dedication. In your name, we pray, Amen.
Today, I had the opportunity to offer the invocation at a change of responsibility ceremony as one of the batteries gained a new First Sergeant. Here is the prayer I offered:
God of All People-
On this day, we recognize the gift of leadership. We thank you for you the leadership of 1SG Porter and the guidance he has provided for the Soldiers of this battery. May you give him continued wisdom in his new assignment. We also ask that you give 1SG Martin the wisdom and strength to provide leadership to the Soldiers of this battery. Inspire us all to be leaders by their examples. We ask this in your name, Amen.
I began with my new unit this week at Fort Hood. Again, I find myself participating in a change of command ceremony as my unit gains a new commander. I was asked to deliver the invocation. Below is the prayer I used (parts of it are borrowed from other borrowed prayers). It was an honor to be able to offer the prayer.
God of All Creation- Thank you for your presence at this change of command of ceremony. We thank you for choosing leaders who ably lead the mission, motivate us in our work, and ultimately promote freedom throughout the world. We ask your blessing upon LTC Holler and LTC Barnett as they pass between the guidon of command. As it passes, strengthen them both in the tasks to which they have been called. Go with LTC Holler and his family as they prepare for their new assignment. Remain with LTC Barnett and his family as he leads us to new heights of excellence. Give us the commitment to serve our new commander well. Thank you for your never ending love, strength, courage, and guidance – the keys to unlocking the full potential of this outstanding unit. In your name we pray, Amen.
I come to you asking that you would comfort the family and friends of the victims of the theater shootings. Meet each of these people at the point of their need and speak the words only you can speak in order to be comforted at this moment. Let the families and friends bind together and be strengthened as they mourn the untimely passing of their loved ones. And for those who are injured, be in the hospital room with them right now. Be at their bedside and hold their hands. Impart healing energy into their room.. Be with their loved ones who are in hospital waiting rooms awaiting news. Be with the doctors who will treat them, giving those doctors knowledge, wisdom and discernment. Let everyone who will and can pray for the recovery of those who are wounded, the comfort of those who are mourning and even the remorse for the shooter. I pray all of these things in the mighty and matchless name of Jesus, Amen.
Oh, my Lord, it’s hot.
The heat has been nearly unbearable…
It reminds me to thank you for shade,
and for air conditioning.
It reminds me to be in prayer for those who must be in the heat:
Thank you that it’s not always this hot.
Thank you for the variety of the seasons.
Thank you for heat waves
that bless us when they subside.
Thank you for reminders of blessings.
I am no longer worried but now I wait to find out where I will be going. It is not easy to wait. Here is my prayer:
I rejoice, Lord God, with praise and thanksgiving,
for the various trials I have fallen into,
because I know you intend for them
to produce patience in me.
Grant that I may let patience do its perfect work,
that I may be made more complete in you,
And do please grant me wisdom,
liberally, in fulfillment of your promise.
I ask in faith,
trusting you completely and with renewed hope,
in Jesus’ name, amen.
I am excited now and I want to share the news of my selection to Active Duty Army as a Chaplain with every one I can. This crazy idea took hold of me nearly 2 years ago and I have been working towards it ever since. It has not been easy as it involved getting in shape and losing a whole person worth of weight. I have been challenged and had days when I thought I was crazy but through it all, I felt a strong sense of calling to this direction and I have kept on the path no matter what.
Which is why I have been surprised about the reactions of some people that I have valued in my journey through seminary to this point. I am not going to name them but rather just keep them as a group of people. You see each of these people have served as a guide or mentor along the way even a sounding board. My call was affirmed time and time again and I continued on this path and here I am about to embark on an exciting journey and they don’t get it. I find out now that many people thought this was a phase that I was going through. They were humoring me until I came to my senses.
With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah that says: ‘You will indeed listen, but never understand, and you will indeed look, but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; so that they might not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and understand with their heart and turn— and I would heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it. ~Matthew 13:14-17 (NRSV)
I did come to my senses the day I took my oath of office to join the army. I have never regretted this decision because God has shown me clearly this is my path. I was not called to be a pastor of a church and I have known that for some time. My denomination is largely made up of pastors with some serving in other roles. I understand that many people struggle with things they don’t understand but I have a great opportunity to share my faith with countless others and I don’t even have to preach or speak. It is a ministry of presence – boots on the ground. While I am anxious, I have a sense of peace knowing I am going where God wants me to go.
For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. ~Ephesians 2:10 (NRSV)
I know that people will read this and take offense to my words. I am not calling anyone out – I am simply expressing my feelings as to how I see things. There are people who have been supportive of this idea all along (my wife especially who has been my biggest supporter and I would not be on this journey without her love and support). I appreciate those who have expressed their support but I suppose I am human after all. I find myself focusing on those who don’t care or appear to not be supportive. It is a fine line separating me from bitterness. This is my struggle today as we begin this phase of the journey.
O God, I cry to you.
Help me to pray
And to concentrate my thoughts on you:
I cannot do this alone.
In me there is darkness,
But with you there is light;
I am lonely, but you do not leave me;
I am feeble in heart, but with you there is help;
I am restless, but with you there is peace.
In me there is bitterness, but with you there is patience;
I do not understand your ways,
But you know the way for me…
Restore me to liberty,
And enable me to live now
That I may answer before you and before me.
Lord, whatever this journey may bring,
Your name be praised.
In the end, I realize God has already provided guidance and answers. Lisa, Sophia, and I are heading off with the support of each other and God on this journey. This morning, I was reading 1 Samuel and David’s story (journey) to the throne. While I am not battling for a throne, I do understand his feelings of loneliness. But I am not alone, I have my family and I have God and what more do I need. I am excited for the journey. I will just fight bitterness.
God, I praise you for this,
my tenth wedding anniversary.
What an unspeakable blessing
you’ve bestowed on me
in the lovely Lisa.
A million times, thank you.
I am your servant
And I am listening;
Speak to me Lord, speak to me.
I need your wisdom
And truth and comfort;
Speak to me Lord, speak to me.Speak to me,
Speak to me,
Through your word,
Through your Spirit,
Speak your words of life.
Speak to me,
Speak to me,
I am listening,
I am waiting,
Speak to me.
I am your servant
And I am listening;
Speak to me Lord, speak to me.
My heart is silent,
My soul is longing,
Speak to me Lord, speak to me.
Today, we are traveling back home to Tennessee after a few days in Pennsylvania. Here is a prayer for not only our travels but for anyone who is traveling and/or on a journey.
God who watches over us,
Watch over this journey.
Keep us free from affliction and strife,
Safe from danger and wrong doing,
Protected in Your loving sight.
May we know strength and good fortune on the way,
Rest and peace upon our return.
May this travel be blessed with the shelter of Your gentle arms,
The guidance of Your mighty hand,
The gift of Your countless blessings.
Bless our moments apart,
Bless our moments together.
Grace upon departure,
Joy upon return.
Remembering to praise and bless
Your Holy Name
Wherever You lead us,
Today, my unit had a change of command ceremony and I was asked to deliver the invocation. Below is the prayer I used (parts of it are borrowed from other borrowed prayers). It was an honor to be able to offer the prayer.
God of all people, this ceremony marks the passing of the awesome responsibility of command from MAJ Jackson to 1LT Burrows. We thank you for the leadership of MAJ Jackson as he relinquishes command. We pray for your continued blessing upon him and upon his family as he moves to another assignment. We ask for your guidance upon 1LT Burrows as he assumes command of HHC 332nd Medical Brigade. Bless him and his family as they support his leadership. We ask blessings upon all the members of this unit as together we pray in your name, Amen.
Today marks the first day (meteorologically speaking) of summer so here is a prayer for the day and season:
God, I praise you,
for hot and humid summer days,
for the fireworks of thunderstorms,
for watermelon sweetness,
for all your beauty, power, kindness and sweetness
displayed in summer,
in Jesus’ name, amen.
In the quiet sanctuaries of our own hearts,
let each of us name and call on
the One whose power over us
is great and gentle,
firm and forgiving,
holy and healing…
You who created us,
who sustain us,
who call us to live in peace,
hear our prayer this day.
Hear our prayer for all who have died,
whose hearts and hopes are known to you alone…
Hear our prayer for those who put the welfare of others
ahead of their own
and give us hearts as generous as theirs…
Hear our prayer for those who gave their lives
in the service of others,
and accept the gift of their sacrifice…
Help us to shape and make a world
where we will lay down the arms of war
and turn our swords into ploughshares
for a harvest of justice and peace…
Comfort those who grieve the loss of their loved ones
and let your healing be the hope in our hearts…
Hear our prayer this day
and in your mercy answer us
in the name of all that is holy.
I serve combat medics and support with the 332nd Medical Brigade. I encountered this prayer on the wall of the Blanchfield Army Hospital at Fort Campbell this week. Some of our soldiers are training there and we were visiting with them. The words are powerful and worth pondering. The author is unknown.
I ask for your divine strength
to meet the demands of my profession.
Help me to be the finest medic,
both technically and tactically.
If I am called to the battlefield,
give me the courage to conserve our fighting forces
by providing medical care to all who are in needs.
If I am called to a mission of peace,
give me the strength to lead by caring
for those who need my assistance.
help me to take care of my own
spiritual, physical, and emotional needs.
Teach me to trust
in your presence and never-failing love.
Jesus, I await you.
Be risen anew in my heart
as the light of Easter
Up Thy Hill of Sorrows
Thou all alone,
Jesus, man’s Redeemer,
Climbing to a Throne:
Thro’ the world triumphant,
Thro’ the Church in pain,
Which think to look upon Thee
No more again.
Upon my hill of sorrows
I, Lord, with Thee,
Cheered, upheld, yea, carried,
If a need should be:
Cheered, upheld, yea, carried,
Never left alone,
Carried in Thy heart of hearts
To a throne.
(by Christina Rossetti)
Giver of all Good
Streams upon streams of love overflow my path.
Thou hast made me out of nothing,
hast recalled me from a far country,
hast translated me from ignorance to knowledge,
from darkness to light,
from death to life,
from misery to peace,
from folly to wisdom,
from error to truth,
from sin to victory.
Thanks be to thee for my high and holy calling.
I bless thee for ministering angels,
for the comfort of thy Word
for the ordinances of thy church,
for the teaching of thy Spirit,
for thy holy sacraments,
for the communion of saints,
for Christian fellowship,
for the recorded annals of holy lives,
for examples sweet to allure,
for beacons sad to deter.
Thy will is in all thy provisions
to enable me to grow in grace,
and to be meet for they eternal presence.
My heaven-born faith gives promise of eternal sight,
my new birth a pledge of never-ending life.
I draw near to thee, knowing thou wilt draw near to me.
I ask of thee, believing thou hast already given.
I entrust myself to thee, for thou hast redeemed me.
I bless and adore thee, the eternal God,
for the comfort of these thoughts,
the joy of these hopes.
From Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers
Length of days does not profit me except the days are passed in thy presence, in thy service, to thy glory.
Give me a grace that precedes, follows, guides, sustains, sanctifies, aids every hour,
that I may not be one moment apart from thee,
but may rely on thy Spirit,
to supply every thought,
speak in every word,
direct every step,
prosper every work,
build up every mote of faith,
and give me a desire
to show forth thy praise,
testify thy love,
advance thy kingdom.
I launch my bark on the unknown waters of this year,
with thee, O Father, as my harbour,
thee, O Son, at my helm,
thee O Holy Spirit, filling my sails.
Guide me to heaven with my loins girt,
my lamp burning,
my ear open to thy calls,
my heart full of love,
my soul free.
Give me grace to sanctify me,
thy comforts to cheer,
thy wisdom to watch,
thy right hand to guide,
thy counsel to instruct,
thy law to judge,
thy presence to stabilize.
May thy fear be my awe,
thy triumphs my joy.
(from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers, edited by Arthur Bennett)
Perhaps at times we have even felt that you have
forsaken us and forgotten us
but we thank you that it has never been so.
We thank you that you are constantly with your people,
and that you have enabled us to persevere in grace,
You have comforted our hearts,
You have heard our prayers,
You have come so often to our aid.
We pray that you will go with us into this new year.
There is none of us who knows what the new year will hold,
but we thank you that every moment of that year is in your hands,
and you will be with your people.
We thank you that with that promise girding us,
we can go forward with confidence and in your peace.
We pray that you will help us to walk with you in this new year better than we have ever done before.
Forgive us, Lord, for our sins and our backslidings of this past year.
Grant to us, as the days of the new year unfold, an ever closer walk with you.
Help us to put sin to death,
Help us gladly yield our lives unreservedly to Jesus Christ, our Savior, and God
that we may regard ourselves entirely at his disposal to be, to go, to do, as he would wish.
We pray that it may be our privilege to serve him,
to bring glory to him, to help others to know him better,
and to help some, indeed, to come to know him for the first time.
Have mercy, we pray, upon those connected with us who come to the end of this year
and their hearts are still closed against you, still hardening their hearts against you.
Spare them, O God, we pray; spare them!
Grant that this new year would mark the beginning of new life in Jesus Christ.
We are so thankful for the almighty Holy Sprit, for his limitless power
to bring conviction of sin,
to give new birth,
and to draw those who are away from you
to faith and to repentance.
We pray, Lord, that you would do that in the hearts and lives of all who are upon our hearts.
For Jesus’ sake,
(From the book Heart Cries to Heaven, by David Campbell)
I’ve begun to understand something I have known for a long time: You are still in the process of your coming. Your appearance in the form of a slave was only the beginning of your coming, a beginning in which you chose to redeem men by embracing the very slavery from which you were freeing them. And you can really achieve your purpose in this paradoxical way, because the paths that you tread have a real ending, the narrow passes which you enter soon open out into broad liberty, the cross that you carry inevitably becomes a brilliant banner of triumph.
It is said that you will come again, and this is true. But the word again is misleading. It won’t really be “another” coming, because you have never really gone away. In the human existence that you made your own for all eternity, you have never left us.
But still you will come again, because the fact that you have already come must continue to be revealed ever more clearly. It will become progressively more manifest to the world that the heart of all things is already transformed, because you have taken them all to your heart.
Behold, you come. And your coming is neither past nor future, but the present, which has only to reach its fulfillment. Now it is still the one single hour of your Advent, at the end of which we too shall have found out that you have really come.
O God who is to come, grant me the grace to live now, in the hour of your Advent, in such a way that I may merit to live in you forever, in the blissful hour of your eternity.