Unless you’ve lived it, the military lifestyle can be hard to fathom. The challenges, struggles, and heartache that many military families experience are unique to the culture as each branch fulfills the mission of the Department of Defense. Saying “thank you for your service” is a great place to start in acknowledging their service and sacrifice. Beyond that, your prayerful support can make a tangible difference in their ability to serve our country with their family intact.
The obvious is to pray for physical protection when military service men and women are in the line of fire. But marriages and families also come under attack through the stresses of military life. Deployments, military separations, relocations with each new assignment—these all take a toll on spouses and children of both active and reserve service members.
From my own close connection with family members serving in the military, here are specific ways you can cover them in prayer.
Prayers Focused on the Day-to-Day Military Life
“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” – 1 Timothy 4:12
Many service members sign up straight out of high school. Pray for young people to stay true to their values in new environments. The temptations can be great.
-Pray that they would have a strong moral compass in the midst of this new culture.
-Pray that they would own their Christian faith and learn how to express it within the military lifestyle.
“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:19
Finances can be tight for military families. It can be hard for spouses to pick up a second income because of the moves that come with each new assignment. Also, when a spouse is deployed, the financial load often increases.
-Pray for God’s provision and His wisdom in managing finances.
-Pray that families would be discerning of predatory ploys to take advantage of them financially.
-Pray for inspired and creative ways to supplement their income.
Marriages and Families – Relocations and Drill Weekends
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” – Matthew 7:24
The stress upon military marriages is high—as well as the divorce rate. With each new assignment, families must pack up and relocate to another state or even a new country. The uprooting can take its toll. Faith in God can help families weather the storms and face each new challenge with a God-given perspective.
-Pray that God will keep couples close and that they would have a unified approach to raising their children.
-Pray for a sense of peace when families must uproot and rebuild in a new place.
-Pray for moms and dads to have the grace and strength to build a new support system.
-Pray for the kids to have God’s courage to find new friends.
For reservists, monthly drill weekends and TDYs (Temporary Duty Assignments) require extra strength while working their regular full-time jobs. The spouse may be left to manage the kids – or in cases when both parents are in the military, childcare must be lined up.
-Pray for extra strength to complete their reserve duties in addition to their regular employment.
-Pray for favor at their civilian jobs and employers who appreciate the reservist’s service to our country.
-Pray for willing family members or others to care for the children if necessary.
“For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways…” – Psalm 91:11
Whether on a battlefield or in routine exercises, our military service men and women put their lives on the line every day.
-Pray for divine protection.
-Pray for courage on and off the battlefield.
-Pray for God’s peace and protection over the hearts and minds of service members.
-Pray for peace of mind for spouses and family and an ability to trust God as their loved one serves.
Prayers During Deployment and Times of Military Separation
“I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers…” – Philemon 1:4
Pray for both spouses during deployment. The service member experiences great stress during deployment in times of war and in times of peace. At the same time, those who are left behind to “hold down the fort” must now fill the gap of the mom or dad or spouse who is gone.
Successive deployments don’t get easier. They often add “insult to injury” on a family that has been taxed and possibly still trying to regain their footing from a previous deployment.
“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” – Ecclesiastes 4:12
It can be overwhelming to take on the full responsibility of the household, made even more difficult without the daily companionship of their spouse.
-Pray for spouses as they deal with loneliness in times of separation.
-Pray for wisdom in setting relational boundaries during times of separation.
-Pray that no wedges come between husband and wife and that they will be able to reunite well after deployments.
-Pray that the children will be able to understand that mom or dad is fulfilling their duty.
-Pray protection over the children’s hearts, that they would not grow bitter when the parent is gone—or when new orders come in.
-Pray that the deployed mom or dad will have wisdom in how to maintain a close relationship with the child even while apart.
-Pray for supportive environments while a spouse is deployed.
-Pray for people who will step up to help with house repairs, emergency situations, or even just to give the parent “left behind” a breather in the care of the children.
-Pray for people to love on the kids and let them know they’re not alone.
Prayers Around Reunions after Deployments
“Love… always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” – 1 Corinthians 13:6-7
Deployment can be difficult, but sometimes the reunion is even more stressful. The returning servicemember can come home changed—emotionally, mentally, relationally, and even sometimes physically through the loss of a limb or injury. PTSD is a very real component of the military lifestyle, and it can take time for warriors returning to adjust to civilian life.
The family has changed too, with new routines and new ways of coping without the parent or spouse at hand. Recognizing the changes can help families navigate the reunion more easily.
-Pray for grace as families reunite.
-Pray for the returning servicemember to be able to adjust to civilian life well—and that, if necessary, they will seek help and healing.
-Pray for understanding and patient hearts as each family member adjusts to a “new normal.”
-Pray that husband and wife will be able to recommit their marriage and family to the Lord and trust Him for a smooth reunion after times of separation.
When Death Occurs
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” – John 15:13
We pray for protection for our servicemembers, but there are times when the loved one does not come home.
-Pray for the families in their time of loss, for God’s help through the grieving process, and also as they plan “what’s next” in their lives. They may have a given timeline to move off base and find other housing, and whereas the military dictated their life before, the future can be uncertain.
-Gird the surviving family members up in your prayers and be there for them as they navigate the uncertainties.
Prayers for Government and Military Leaders
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord…” – Psalm 33:12
It may sound cliché, but one of the best prayers you can pray in relation to our military is for our country. Give our service men and women something of value to live for, to fight for, and if necessary to die for.
-Pray for the creators of national security to respond appropriately to world situations.
-Pray for moral integrity within the military to uphold what’s right, to maintain our country’s unique freedoms, and the reason many military signed up in the first place.
-Pray for our nation’s leaders to uphold our democratic values.
-Pray that our service men and women—Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine, Coast Guard, National Guard—would be proud to serve our country.