How often, when we go to church, is there prayer for the on-going tragedy of Iraq and Afghanistan? For the unnumbered millions of Iraqis forced from their homes, their country, their families. These up-rooted children will never be able to shake off the trauma of these years.
Neither will our military of 160,000 men and women and the mercenaries (construction and security personnel — that now out-number our military) return from this war unscarred. We see it already in the growing divorce rate among the military families; record soldier suicides and hundreds of AWOL cases.
As we gather for worship there is an occasional prayer for our military stranded in a war with no end in sight. We usually remember to pray when one of the congregation or our area is killed or lost limbs.
You who have read this far may say, “Bro. Towery, I did not pick up my paper today to be reminded of the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan… can’t you be more cheerful and quit going on and on about stuff we can do nothing about and would rather forget?”
“Americans, have not merely abandoned the war;” writes Frank Rich, “they don’t want to hear anything that might remind them of it.”
I wish I could forget the war. I long to put this totally unnecessary invasion and occupation of Iraqi out of my mind. Even if I could, I could not get it out of my heart. The next generation is going to suffer more than those of other wars. They have been ordered into the worst kind of “impossible dream” by our national leadership. Such adventurism in the name of “our-kind-of-freedom” will make healing almost impossible for everyone it touches.
We can still pray. Pray for the children who suffer the most, both in Iraq and here. Our young now play war games on their computers; leave high school and join the army to find how miss-led they were by the glory of war and “winning” above all else. The results of these years scar in so many hidden ways.
Not only is little prayer offered at church, but most of our entertainment world continues to whirl. I never see a new bumper sticker “support the troops.” I guess they sold all they could and are now spending all their time producing 2008 political quips. Take a look at the football stadiums on Saturdays and Sundays. Everything goes on as if there were no war. America is not at war, only less than one-half of one percent is involved — the servicemen/women and families.
You say, “what does prayer do?” If I knew what prayer actually does, I could go to the front of the class. Praying is believing. It is reason with the blinders off. The results of prayer is beyond our wildest dreams. We lay out our heart’s concern before a loving, all-knowing God, and remember the verse, “God makes wars to cease” (Psalms 46:9). He just did not tell us when! That is why the Bible urges us to stay in an attitude of prayer - pray without ceasing.
The church was meant to be salt for society, not to just become a society unto itself. Otherwise “church” is no different from The Odd Fellows or the Lion’s Club. Salt is what makes ordinary food taste outstanding. When salt loses its strength, it is thrown out. Too many churches have become too involved internally with their own wants, needs and hurts. Churches that are in-grown become their own society, apart from the society they were to invigorate. They have lost touch with their original mission (Look it up: Luke 4:16-21).
Britt Towery is a former missionary, freelance writer and published author. He welcomes reader feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.