As Padre to the Ilford branch of the Royal British Legion, I led prayers for those on active service as part of an event held for Armed Forces Day outside Ilford Town Hall today.
As I understand it, Armed Forces Day is an opportunity to do two things. Firstly, to raise public awareness of the contribution made to our country by those who serve and have served in Her Majesty's Armed Forces, Secondly, it gives us, as a nation, an opportunity to show our support for the men and women who make up the Armed Forces community: from currently serving troops to Service families and from veterans to cadets.
For those who are Christians wanting to show their support, the most natural thing for us to do is to pray for those on active service. For that reason, I was very happy to have this opportunity to lead prayers as part of the Ilford event. I mainly used suggestions for prayer and prayers which can be found at http://www.pray4ourforces.org.uk/, a website provided by the Armed Forces Christian Union:
We pray for safety, health and well-being for our servicemen and women whilst they are away. For military leaders of all ranks who are given responsibility for leading men and women on operations and who have to make life-or-death and welfare decisions on a regular basis. For the safety of all soldiers leading patrols, often with metal detection equipment; and for the safety of all field vehicle recovery teams often working in very dangerous conditions. For safety of our aircrews as they operate helicopters and fast jets in hostile environments, including retrieving injured personnel from operational areas, frequently under fire. For the ground crews who maintain the aircraft. For Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel on board ship in various hostile situations, including anti-terrorism and anti-drugs operations. For chaplains serving with and ministering to deployed personnel, including taking repatriation services and ministering to the injured, the bereaved and those suffering from combat stress. For medical staff: doctors, nurses, medical assistants, physiotherapists, radiographers, etc. We pray for skill, wisdom, stamina and insight as they treat the injured, and thank God for the many lives saved as a result of the quality of care they give to the injured. For all who have been wounded especially those whose lives have been changed forever. For those feeling lonely and afraid in a foreign country far from family, friends and familiar surroundings. For all dependants under stress and not coping well with separation. We pray that our Government will make funding available for our deployed servicemen and women to be resourced with the best equipment and that honourable, peaceful and just solutions will be found to problems in countries where our troops are currently deployed.
Resolute God, we thank you for the men and women of our Armed Forces and for all their families and friends whose support enables them to serve our country. We pray that in all circumstances they will be able to keep their eyes on the common goal and ultimately win the prize for which you have called us. We thank you for the opportunity to be able to hold this event for Armed Forces Day and ask that we continue to pray every day for the life of the world and those who exercise power, asking that they find ways to work together for justice and peace so that war is rejected and we can all live peacefully as members of the human family. Merciful Father, we ask that you hear and accept all our prayers through your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ, Amen
The Soldiers - He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother.