Since the founding of our nation, Americans have been called to pray for our country, its leaders, and those who serve in the military. During wartime, attacks, and natural disasters, that motivation intensifies dramatically. Even though we are a pluralistic country, we still observe a National Day of Prayer early each May. Many churches and para-church ministries call for fasting and prayer on various occasions.
Those who serve in our military, as well as contractors who provide support, often spend long periods of time away from their families, even when they are not directly involved in a theatre of war. Too often their service, and the sacrifice of their loved ones, has not been acknowledged.
“The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I called to the LORD, who is worthy of praise,
And I have been saved from my enemies.”
That maxim, “Those who wait also serve” has long been associated with photographs, paintings, and sculptures of military wives and families waiting for the return of their loved ones serving far from home. Growing up in a Navy family I was familiar with the expression, but I was more fortunate than most because we accompanied my father to his duty stations. It became much more meaningful to me during the sixties, when I learned first hand the loneliness and anxiety that war and military service demanded of loved ones. In more recent years I’ve again experienced the waiting, wondering, and praying for my sons, their wives and children until they return.
There are many worthy organizations that provide encouragement and assistance, and we can join in their efforts to help. However there is one thing all of us can do that is of great value and that is to pray ― for those who serve and for those who wait. We can pray for God’s protection, provision, presence, power, and peace. We can pray for their wisdom, discernment, endurance, and courage. We should also pray for the challenges they face upon their return professionally and personally.
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God:
that if we ask anything according to his will,
he hears us. And if we know that he hears us― whatever we ask―
we know that we have what we asked of him.”
1 John 5:14-15
“They also serve who only stand and wait.”
The phrase probably originated from a line in the sonnet
‘On His Blindness’,
by John Milton, noted English poet and scholar.