by LtGen Bruce L. Fister, USAF, (Ret.)
We live in challenging times. The clearest challenge to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coastguardsmen, and their families is the Global War on Terrorism. The GWOT is real, dangerous, long, hard, and critical to the defense of our nation and the freedoms it represents.
Add to this the personal challenges of sickness, the loss of loved ones, difficulties with a child in school, conflict with those with whom or for whom we work, and relational issues with those we love.
And then there are the challenges involving relationships with the Lord, both from inside the body and from the culture in which we live. Each day in the OCF Home Office we have devotions and a time of prayer to honor the requests from OCF members and families living and serving around the world.
This is our most important work of the day and we are committed to honor each request. Because our prayer ministry is so important and foundational to what we do in OCF, I have asked myself, how should we pray? There is not an easy answer simply because so many people are stressed, attacked, wounded, separated, or discouraged.
My first inclination is to ask, “Is this from you Lord? Is it fair? Why? and, Would you lift the burdens from the shoulders of my friends who are hurting?”
My request is similar to King David’s words, “Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God . . . You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil . . . Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness.”
J. I. Packer addresses this issue in his book, Knowing God, where he says, “But how are we to meet these baffling and trying situations, if we cannot for the moment see God’s purpose in them?
First, by taking them as from God, and asking ourselves what reactions to them, and in them, the gospel of God requires of us; and second, by seeking God’s face specifically about them.” The Apostle Paul had a thorn in the flesh which the Lord addressed by saying, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
J. I. Packer frames our challenges in similar terms when he says, “They will have been sent us to make and keep us humble, and to give us a new opportunity of showing forth the power of Christ in our mortal lives.” Our challenges are likewise thorns in the flesh and they are uncomfortable.
But my conclusion concerning “How then shall we pray?” is that we pray for the strength to obey the Lord’s will, to fulfill His purposes, and to bring honor and glory to His holy name. Yes I want victory in the GWOT, safe keeping for those fighting this war, families reunited, the sick healed, peace for those who grieve, and relationships reconciled.
But as I pray for those things, I pray first and foremost that the purposes of God be fulfilled and that glory be brought to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. For through God’s purposes and glory, we will be bound to the One who loves us, to love and worship Him for eternity.
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.