My blog regarding uncritical support of what President Eisenhower called the “military-industrial complex” and how best to pray for loved ones in military service prompted some interesting responses. Some responses can be seen as comments on this site. Others came through personal e-mail. Not surprisingly, feelings run deep. There’s no such thing as dispassionate discussion of war and prayer.
I never intended to cease praying for loved ones in danger. (I thought that was clear, but obviously it wasn’t), but rather to offer those prayers without endorsing the “Support the Troops” jingoism that has become endemic in American culture. When a professor at the United States Naval Academy and an officer in the Marine Corps warns that “Uncritical support of all things martial is quickly becoming the new normal for our youth,” I think its behooves Christians to pay attention. It is one thing to pray for loved ones in the military. It’s another to bless militarism.
The discussion also revealed resentment that the names of military personnel are printed in the Lord’s Day order for worship while the names of others are read out loud. The perception seems to be that military folks are given short shrift if their names are not voiced.
I have to admit that hadn’t occurred to me. For me, it seemed sensible to print a list that hardly changes from week to week, and to read aloud a list that has constant updates. My notion was that the assembly could hold the people on both lists in prayer without ranking them. I’m certain God doesn’t rank them.
We’ll probably go back to the practice of reading all the names on the prayer list out loud. However, that approach also prompts objections. At least one thoughtful church member thinks that practice leads to the trivialization of prayer — so many names and so little time. That person would rather we print all the names and take a good deal more time for intercession during the Lord’s Day service.
As a worship planner and leader, I just have to do the best I can. Not everyone will approve, of course, but it is nice to know how passionate people are about prayer. That warms this pastor’s heart.