Prayers

Most of the time chaplains don’t need help with prayers, it’s what we do. Sometimes, however, we face situations where we need to get the creative juices flowing or we’ve been asked to pray at an event that we’ve never prayed at before so seeing what others have used can be helpful. I publish these prayers here to help you. Feel free to use as-is or adapt to best fit your situation. No need to give credit, they’re here for you. Most of these prayers are original to me, though a couple have been adapted from other prayers passed on to me. If a prayer is wholly somebody else’s, I’ll make note of the author.

A few thoughts about prayers: Some chaplains bristle at the thought of writing a prayer or praying a written prayer. If that’s you, and you’re able to pray an effective prayer extemporaneously, keep it up! For many events, I don’t write prayers, but have in mind a basic outline to guide me when I pray. For more unique or high-visibility events, I’ll usually write out a prayer to ensure that it fits within the program’s theme and I don’t forget anything. I believe that God hears our prayers whether they’re fresh from our heart and mind, or planned out beforehand. As to length, I’ve always remembered the guidance given by the Installation Chaplain at my first assignment as a chaplain (Hugh Dukes). He advised us to keep in mind when we pray at events that there are usually Soldiers standing in the hot sun who aren’t necessarily there to hear our prayer, so keep it short, under 1 minute. I’ve used this 1 minute standard throughout my time as a chaplain though I usually come in under a minute realizing that the prayer isn’t the “main event” but should enhance (and empower) the main event.

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Change of Responsibility Ceremony for a Brigade – Invocation (Christian)

(Prayed at the 501st MI BDE Change of Responsibility Ceremony, Camp Humphreys, ROK, 11 February 2016)

Most Gracious Heavenly Father:

 Thank you for this day that you have given to us and for this occasion that brings us together which reminds us of the strength of our military and the freedom it defends, as well as the role that the 501st plays in the defense of freedom here in Korea.

 Thank you for Command Sergeant Major Xxxxxxx and for his committed and faithful service as the Brigade Command Sergeant Major. Thank you for the positive impact he has had on the Soldiers and mission of the brigade. I pray that you will continue to be with him, and bless him and his wife as they move on to the next chapter of their lives.

 I also pray that you will be with Command Sergeant Major Xxxxxx as she takes on this challenge. Provide for her everything that she needs to serve with faithfulness, courage and integrity as she continues the great work that Command Sergeant Major Xxxxxxx has begun.

 Finally Lord, I pray that you will bless this time that we share together and pray that everything that is said and done here today will be pleasing to you, as you continue to bless us, the Republic of Korea and the United States of America.

 In your precious and holy name I pray, Amen.

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Christmas Prayer (Christian)

(From the program for the Christmas Day Dinner, Vietnam, 1968, by Chaplain (COL) Gerard J. Gefell, Staff Chaplain)

Heavenly Father, we confess that it is our custom to accept Thy gifts and direct little thought to the giver. We thank Thee for invading history that we might for all time understand the intensity of Thy love for us. We ask that the gift of Thy Son may guide us to present our gifts of service to Thee regardless of the station of those to whom Thy love is to be revealed. Make of us modern wise men who dare to serve Thee from the heat of Vietnam to the pavement of our cities. Grant that as we celebrate Thy Nativity our lives shall radiate Thy love, Thy humility and Thy selflessness. Amen.

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Memorial Service for a Chaplain – Benediction (Christian)

(Prayed at a memorial service held for Chaplain (CPT) Dale Goetz at USACCS, 3 September 2010)

Our most Gracious God and Father,

We thank you for your presence and love which helps us to endure through difficult times.  We thank you for moments like these when we don’t have to be alone but can gather among brothers and sisters in the faith.  We thank you for the peace that you have brought us today, your peace—that can exist within us even when all around us there is no peace.

As much as you comfort us who have gathered here today, we pray that in an even greater measure you will comfort Dale’s family, especially his wife Xxxxx and their three sons Xxxxxx, Xxxxxx and Xxxxx.  Be for them all that they need you to be just now and continue to provide for them in every way in the days, weeks, months and years ahead that they face life without their husband, father and son.

Finally Lord, we pray that you will bring real peace to our land, so that we can rest in safety and comfort and not have to send our sons and daughters into harm’s way.  Bring to us, we humbly ask you, the time when parents don’t have to grieve the loss of their children killed in war; hasten the day when spouses don’t have to say goodbye to their loved ones because they serve their country; provide for us, dear Father, a world whose children do not have to grow up fatherless because of the sin that envelopes us; and be victorious, Almighty God, over the Evil One, establish your Kingdom on Earth finally and forever, that we may enjoy your loving and peaceful presence for all eternity.

Go with us now, Lord we pray, as we reluctantly return to the world out there.  Please don’t let us soon forget our brother Dale but help us to honor his sacrifice through our lives lived for your glory and Christ’s life lived through us.

“May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever.  Amen.”  (Heb13:20-21)

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Memorial Tribute – Benediction (Christian)

(Prayed at the Memorial Tribute at the U.S. Army Military Police School, 23 September 2013)

Our most Gracious God and Father,

We thank you for your presence and love which helps us to endure through difficult times. We thank you for moments like these when we don’t have to be alone but can gather among others who know, at least to an extent, what we face. We thank you for the peace that you give us, your peace—that can exist within us even when all around us there is no peace.

As much as you comfort us who have gathered here today, we pray that in an even greater measure you will comfort the families and loved ones of those who have fallen. Be for them all that they need you to be just now and continue to provide for them in every way in the days, weeks, months and years ahead as they face life without their wife, husband, father, mother or child.

Finally Lord, we pray that you will bring real peace to our land, so that we can rest in safety and comfort and not have to send our sons and daughters into harm’s way. Bring to us, we humbly ask you, the time when parents don’t have to grieve the loss of their children killed in war; hasten the day when spouses don’t have to say goodbye to their loved ones because they serve their country; provide for us, dear Father, a world whose children do not have to grow up without a father or a mother because of the evil that envelopes us.

Go with us now, Lord we pray, as we reluctantly return to the world out there. Please don’t let us soon forget our comrades, friends and family who have fallen, but help us to honor their sacrifice through our lives lived for your glory.

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace” (Numbers 6:22).

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Military Ball – Invocation (Christian)

(Prayed at the Military Intelligence Ball in Seoul South Korea 7 May 2016)

Dear Gracious Heavenly Father,

I thank you for this day you have given us and for this occasion that we gather together to celebrate the alliance which exists between the United States and the Republic of Korea, particularly tonight- in the Intelligence community.

We realize that it is our ability to work together that preserves the armistice and protects the freedom and independence of our friends.

I thank you for all of those involved in this task before us, from the newest private to the most experienced officer, and pray for each of them that they will be protected as they perform their duties but also that they will be blessed because of the significance of our mission.

I pray now that you will be with us tonight as we celebrate the successful, continued, execution of our mission and the alliance we enjoy with each other. Bless this time with your presence and bless each one here gathered.

In your holy name I pray, Amen.

Military Ball – Benediction (Christian)

(Prayed at the Military Intelligence Ball in Seoul South Korea 7 May 2016)

Dear Father:

Thank you for this time that we’ve had together: The honors, the entertainment, the laughs, and the good food.

Thank you again for all of those here, and all the others who are serving both in uniform and as civilians, in the defense of freedom in the Republic of Korea and around the world.

Thank you also for your presence with us here this evening so far, and as we continue to celebrate. I pray that you will continue to be with us, both those here and those traveling home.

Finally, Lord, I pray that you will provide safety tonight and in the days ahead. And I pray that you will especially bless the Republic of Korea and the United States of America as we live and serve together.

In your name I pray, Amen.

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National Prayer Breakfast – Invocation (Christian)

(Prayed at the USAG Fort Leonard Wood National Prayer Breakfast, 2 May 2017)

Most gracious Heavenly Father,

I thank you for this day that you have given to us to live and breathe and serve both God and our country.

Thank you for this opportunity to gather together as fellow sojourners on this journey, to pause for a moment and lift up our prayers for our comrades, our nation and our leaders. Thank you, also, for each one who has made the time and exerted the effort to be here today to be part of this noble effort.

As we also seek to be renewed and rejuvenated, attempting to gain resiliency and find meaning in a life that sometimes seems hopeless and futile, I pray that your presence will be especially evident to us this morning and that you will speak to us, and maybe even bring healing to us, as you know best.

I ask now that you will particularly bless those participating in the program, in the hope that everything that is said and done will be pleasing to you.

Now Lord, gazing toward that great looking buffet, I pray that you will bless the food that we will soon eat, that it will nourish us to be stronger to serve better.

I pray this in the name of my Savior, Jesus Christ,

Amen.

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(Prayed at the USAG Fort Leonard Wood National Prayer Breakfast, 2016, author unknown)

Our gracious God and Father,

You have commanded the light to shine out of darkness and awakened us again to praise your goodness and to work for the common good of all. We worship you this morning and thank you for the privilege and honor of wearing our Nation’s uniform. May every aspect of this NPB nourish us and cause us to flourish as citizens of our great country.

Amen.

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Retirement Ceremony for a Post – Invocation (Christian)

(Prayed at the USAG Yongsan/8th Army Retirement Ceremony, 31 July 2015)

Dear Gracious Heavenly Father,

 Thank you for this day you have given us and for this occasion that brings us together as we honor these Service Members who are retiring.

I thank you for their many, many years of faithful and honorable service to our nation as they have been a part of our military which has brought freedom and peace to many people around the world, while preserving our own.

Thank you for the impact these retirees have undoubtedly had on countless other Service Members as they have modeled, mentored and trained character, competence and commitment both in and out of uniform.

I pray that all of us gathered here today will be inspired by their careers and achievements to seek to excel in our remaining time in uniform or civilian service; to be examples of integrity and excellence; to also finish the course well as these Soldiers have done.

Finally Lord, I pray that you would bless this time today with your presence and that you would be honored as we honor those who retire today.

 In your precious and holy name I pray, Amen.

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Retirement Ceremony for a Post – Invocation (Christian)

(Written by Chaplain (COL) Thomas Wheatley and prayed at the USAG Yongsan/8th Army Retirement Ceremony, 27 April 2016)

Dear Father,

We give You thanks today for the many years of service and sacrifice of all of our retirees – and their family members who have made tremendous sacrifices of their own – in support of the Army and the nation, and in furthering the cause of freedom worldwide.  Only You know the true impact each of them have had over the years.

We thank You for equipping each of them with a heart for service; and we thank You ahead of time for the service we know that they will continue to provide for our nation in the next chapter of their lives.  We know that You have a good plan for each of them, and we pray that You make clear to them those good plans You have for them.

We give You thanks for being with them every step of their journey in the Army – and we Know You will continue to be with them in their future.  Your Word promises that You preserve our going out and our coming in from this time forth and even forevermore.  Thank You for Your constant presence and Your care for each of us, no matter where we go and what we do.

We pray now Your blessings on this ceremony and all who are attending.  And we pray that You keep all of us strong and vigilant as we guard the frontiers of freedom around the world.

Amen.

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Veterans Day Prayer for Our Nation – (Christian)

(Written by Chaplain Michael L. McCoy, published in The Military Chaplain, Vol 89, No 4, Winter 2016)

Almighty and Eternal God who gives us the freedoms we enjoy in this great nation, come visit us in this most sacred garden where many of our veterans have gathered and many of our nation’s heroes rest. Fill our hearts today with thankfulness for our veterans who answered the call to defend the honor and just causes of our great nation. We thank you for their patriotism, their devotion to liberty and justice, human dignity and rights, compassion and self-giving. We thank you for their diversity and their unity in mission.

Let all who would forget war reach out in compassion to those who must always remember. May the nightmares of all wars cease, so that healing can take place.

To honor our veterans, may each American find reasons to love, not hate, and strength to build than to destroy. Renew our sense of unity, hope and faith through times of testing and difficulty.

God give us a joyous spirit of celebration of our nation’s veterans and their families. Bless us now with your presence. In the Name of our God who challenges us to care. Amen.

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Weather, Good – (Christian)

(Written by Chaplain James O’Neill, 3rd Army Chief of Chaplains, at the request of LTG George Patton, 8 December 1944)

Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies, and establish Thy justice among men and nations. Amen.

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Women’s History Month Observation – Invocation (Christian)

(Prayed at the USAG Yongsan, ROK Women’s History Month Observance, 25 March 2016)

Most Gracious Heavenly Father,

Thank you for this day and for this occasion that brings us together to remember, honor and encourage women who have served and sacrificed in our military, in public service and in our government.

 Thank you for each one: those who have gone before, those present with us here today, and those yet to come. Thank you for the enormous contribution that they have made to our nation’s defense and development as they have served around the world both in and out of harm’s way.

Thank you also, for everyone who chose to attend this observance today to remember and honor these women who have done so much.

Finally, Lord, I pray that you will bless this time today with your presence, with the hope that all that we say and do today will honor you and will bless all of us here gathered.

In your holy name I pray, Amen.

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Women’s History Month Observation – Benediction (Christian)

(Prayed at the USAG Yongsan, ROK Women’s History Month Observance, 25 March 2016)

Dear Father,

 Thank you for your presence with us here today, and for all that we have heard to inspire and encourage us.

 Again, I thank you for the contributions of women throughout our history who have dedicated their lives to public service in a variety of roles. I pray that their examples will not only motivate other women to keep the course, but all of us –men and women- as we serve together to make our military strong and our nation great.

 Go with us now, I pray, and empower us to do good both when on duty and off, remembering that our faithful service can be the model that others follow to excellence.

 In your precious name I pray, Amen.

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Prayers for the Unit Ministry Team

In 1986, while the FORSCOM Command Chaplain, Chaplain (COL) Matthew Zimmerman compiled a “prayer book” to “inspire, instruct and assist chaplains in their preparation of … public prayers.”

Here’s a PDF file of Chaplain Zimmerman’s Prayer Book: Prayers for Military Chaplains

Book of Prayers

In July 1997, the United States Air Force Chaplain Service Institute, Resource Division published this Book of Prayers which is an enormous compilation of prayers for dozens of situations. This booklet includes both contributed prayers from Air Force Chaplains as well as Army and Navy Chaplains; and also includes several significant historical prayers. Its stated purpose is to “provide the Air Force Chaplain Service with a resource of prayers relevant to the varied occasions they encounter in military ministry.” One editorial note: it seems the order or arrangement of the pdf file is out of order, which many of the “preliminary” sections being at the end.

Here’s a PDF file of Book of Prayers: Book of Prayers

The United States Air Force Chaplain Corps Book of Prayers

The Air Force Chaplain Corps’ Book of Prayers has been updated (probably several times) and “is provided as a quick reference of secular and nonsecular prayers. Special effort has been made to maximize the inclusiveness of the contents and should be adequate in meeting the pluralistic needs of our diverse military community. The content was provided by various U.S. Army, U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force Chaplain Corps personnel as well as several commercial publishers.”

Here’s a PDF file of The United States Air Force Chaplain Corps Book of Prayers: Book of Prayers

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