On the Corner

A Soldier’s Prayer

Oh Lord,

In this time of quiet contemplation of your sacrifice on my behalf, I seek to know you better–not for purposes of understanding, for I recognize that is beyond me. I suppose my need is to experience you more fully–to sense your presence within me so I might live it more openly. I struggle to know myself–my demons and drives. They seem more powerful than my sense of you until I open myself to your voice. Then they flee.

As I relate to you, oh Lord, help me to speak less and listen more.

Bring fresh tears to my eyes and soften my heart in the face of desperate poverty and despair. Continue to shower me with your grace even in the face of my independent humanness–not so much that I alone will experience that grace, but that I might more powerfully share it.

But while you soften my heart, Lord, strengthen it as well. Give me the courage to speak for those whose voices seem unheard in the halls of power; for those who seem ignored in the face of their dissolution; for those who have not yet learned to speak in any tongue or for those whose words are not understood.

Help me, oh God, overcome my inclination to criticize–to find fault–to point out errors and mistakes in others. Instead, oh Father, allow me to accept them even while offering an alternative point of view. In the face of my shallow wisdom, help me limit my need to diagnose frailty and imperfection in others while placing such confidence in my own accuracy. Erase from me the stupidity of stereotyping. You have fashioned each different from the other. Give me more grace to appreciate that difference and enjoy it. Cleanse my heart from any inclination to judge harshly those around me.

Your generosity overwhelms me. I praise your name.

I am a soldier, oh Lord. I choose to do battle in your name. Cleanse me and purify me for the battle. Forgive my secret sins. Strengthen my will in harmony with yours. Let your presence within me lead me forward. Give me endurance and fortitude. I need patience in an impatient world. You have shown me that patience takes courage. They are intertwined. I want to be a distance runner. I seek to endure. I want to be there until the very end. I promise you my loyalty and devotion. Help me when I stray.

I want to be strong on your behalf, my Lord. Even in my frailty and my weakness, challenge me to reveal my best. I give it back to you–for this was your gift to me. Help me to speak quietly so that your voice might be heard.

I fight in an Army, Lord. I am not alone in the fight. I worry about this Army, for I desperately want it to achieve the potential you have so generously placed before it. This Army is why I am a soldier. Thank you for its heritage–for its present leadership–for its openness to your will and its willingness to listen.

While you brought it into being and continue its very existence, it requires human skill–human action–human thought. Speak to us as we approach a new millennium. Clarify our constituency. Motivate our forces. Invigorate our leaders. Stir all of us to new levels of excellence in your name.

Help me, oh Lord, to do your will as a soldier–when called upon to stand and fight–to minister with mercy–to care for the infirm–to heal the hurt–to grieve with those who grieve–to welcome with genuine love those who, on the outside, seem less lovable–to discover the very “least” among us and, oh Lord, grant that I may share your grace, and that the love you so richly dispense on all of us may be revealed in me.

Thank you, Lord…

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