Today is Memorial Day in the United States, a day when we remember with gratitude those who have died in military service. It has been my tradition for many years to offer a prayer on the occasion of Memorial Day.
Gracious, Sovereign God, Lord of all nations,
On this Memorial Day, we pause to reflect upon our blessings as a nation and the high cost of those blessings for many.
Thank you for the freedom we enjoy in this country, for opportunities to flourish, and for the security of our land.
Thank you for those who have served in the armed services of our country, risking their lives for our liberty.
Thank you for those who have given their lives in service to our country, sacrificing in such a costly way for the sake of others, including me.
Thank you for a day set apart, not just for celebration, but also for solemn remembrance as we consider the sacrifices of so many in our military.
O Lord, may we be more aware of just how blessed we are as a nation. May we be more grateful for our blessings, more faithful in stewarding them well, more eager to share them with others.
We pray today for the families and friends of those who have given their lives in service to our nation. May they be comforted in their sadness. May they be reassured that the sacrifice of their loved ones contributes to a worthy cause. May they be proud of those they have lost, entrusting their ultimate fate into your gracious hands.
Even as we remember those who have given their lives in the past, we also think of those whose lives are on the line today. We think especially of the men and women who are serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, and in other places of conflict and violence. Protect them. Encourage them. Bring them home safely . . . and soon.
Give wisdom to the leaders of our armed services, that they might know how best to deploy the troops in the cause of freedom. May their efforts be successful, so that true peace with justice might be established in our world.
Guide those who lead our nation in international affairs. Help them to pursue diplomatic paths that prevent needless conflict. May they have your wisdom about when and how to use the military might you have entrusted to us.
God of peace, stir in the hearts of the leaders of all nations and in all who would use violence to further their cause. Change their hearts and minds. Give them a passion for peace. Bring an end to the pain, suffering, injustice, and violence in our world.
We know, dear Lord, that ultimate peace will not come until your kingdom is here in all of its fullness. Nevertheless, we pray for a foretaste of the future. We ask for the growth of peace throughout our world today, so that fewer and fewer men and women will have to risk and even to sacrifice their lives. We long for the day when people will “beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isaiah 2:4).
May your kingdom come, Lord, and your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven!
All praise be to you, God of grace, God of mercy, God of justice, God of peace!
(Photo: Arlington National Cemetery with “flags in” for Memorial Day. Public domain.)