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Prayers for Military Chaplains

Robin Stephenson-Bratcher and Dennis Bratcher

General Officer Promotion

Giver of life and Almighty LORD our God, today we come to you with deep gratitude in our hearts for all the gifts you give us each day – family, loved ones, good friends, laughter, our great jobs.  Help us always to receive these gifts with thanksgiving and may our hearts be stirred to remember all of your mercies which we receive through your love towards us.

We have gathered together today to recognize publicly that [officer's name] has the skills, knowledge, and wisdom to be promoted to the rank of [rank].  Let us each remind ourselves today, lest we forget, that God brought each of us to our places of blessing and prosperity. Indeed we are each finite and frail, unable to always know what is the best way to proceed.  Give this [man/woman] wisdom in the years to come, we pray.

[Officer's name] will be entrusted with a higher position of responsibility of leadership in this community of peacemakers.  He has been influenced by others in a variety of contexts that have prepared him for his tasks of leadership.  Be always with [officer's name] in carrying out the duties of [his/her] leadership role, so that by [his/her] life and teaching heart, Your Truth and Peace may be known.

Direct [him/her], and by extension all those whom [s/he] leads, O God, in all the decisions with which [s/he] will be involved in the future.  Direct [him/her] with Your most gracious favor so that [s/he] may enable us to further our task of peacemaking with Your continual help.  May all [his/her] judgments begin, continue, and end in You.

We are each entrusted with the task of peacemaking -- in our homes, in our workplaces, in our nations, in our world.  We know that we are each finite and frail, unable to know the full implications of the decisions we make during our seasons of faith and learning in our lives. Yet, O God, we thank you for inspiring us, nourishing us, and uniting us with this vision of a community of peacemakers.  Grant to us the wisdom that comes through the synergism of faith and action, help us to be your people of peace in all the nations of the world.   AMEN.

NCO Induction

Giver of life and Almighty LORD our God, today we come to you with deep gratitude in our hearts for all the gifts you give us each day – family, loved ones, good friends, laughter, our great jobs.  Help us always to receive these gifts with thanksgiving and may our hearts be stirred to remember all of your mercies which we receive through your love towards us.

Today is a special day, a day of recognition of hard work and dreams realized.  So we give you thanks that you gave these people the integrity and strength to make it through this far.  To some present this is a dream fulfilled – and to those we give you thanks for their courage to follow their vision and see it to fruition. To others still present today it is a stepping stone to the next stage of the fulfillment of their vision – give these individuals the strength to go those next miles that stretch before them.

To all of these who will step up and give their oath today, I ask that you give a sense of pride in their accomplishment.  Also remind them that they didn’t make it alone, there were many who helped along the way – and they need to make sure they say their thanks to those folks.

But also remind them in each of their futures that YOU are interested in their success… and they are never alone in their journeys.

For all your gifts we give you thanks indeed.  But especially today we give you thanks for the ability to reach for the stars and grasp them with joy.

In the name of the Creator, the Savior, and the Sustainer, I pray.  AMEN.

Leader/Pilot Graduation 1

Almighty and Ever-loving Creator, source of all wisdom and understanding, we are so very thankful for all that you teach us each and every day. We are especially thankful for all that you have taught these men and women in their time of learning.  The laughter, the camaraderie, the testing of their abilities… these are gifts for which we are so very thankful. 

Today we want to pause in our headlong rush of life and give you thanks for this time to come together and honor and graduate those who have worked so hard for this day. As we give recognition to some very deserving individuals we ask for a special touch of your blessings on them today and help them to have a strong sense of a job well-done.  May your spirit of remembrance rest on them so this pinnacle time may return to them in times of stress and hardship, and give them strength to continue on their journey.

Their formal learning is ending – and their time of gaining wisdom is just beginning.   Help them to grow strong in wisdom in order to weather life’s storms. Give them strength to be men and women of integrity, and compassion in order to be leaders in a way that is redemptive and capable, where ever they are called to serve.

Alternate for Pilots: Their time here is ending and they are each heading out to the places that you have called them to serve.  So we ask that as you fly with them on their designated missions, that you give them wisdom to weather life’s storms, strength to be men and women of integrity, and compassion to be leaders in a way that is redemptive and capable.

Your strength enables us to protect others, your providence keeps us safe; help us to turn our hearts towards you each and every day.  In the name of the Creator, the Savior, and the Sustainer.  AMEN.

Leader Graduation 2

Almighty Creator, we pause this evening to ask for your blessing on the women and men of this [Airmen Leadership School] graduating class.  Thank you for the new insights and knowledge they have gained.  Thank you for their commitment to lead the way in the cause of freedom.  Thank you for dedicated teachers and mentors who have had the opportunity to instruct and share with them over the past several weeks. Grant each graduate wisdom to apply themselves to the challenges that lie ahead.  May they rise to every occasion to lead with professionalism and honor.

O Lord, as we honor graduates this evening, our hearts cannot help but wander to the war that is being waged for the cause of freedom at this very moment.  We ask that you guide our leaders in the decisions they must make on the battlefield and in the planning rooms.

We ask for your protection, courage, and watch-care for all our deployed comrades, especially those in harms way this night.  Give their families faith and comfort as they watch and pray.

Touch the hearts of those moms, dads, spouses, children, and friends who have received the sad news that their loved one has paid the ultimate sacrifice.

And now Lord, stir our hearts together this evening.  Strengthen this class, and each of us, to meet every challenge and every threat that waits to confront us.

God, bless America we pray. AMEN

Awards Ceremony

Almighty and Ever-loving Creator, source of all wisdom and understanding, we are so very thankful for all that you teach us each and every day. We are especially thankful for all that you have taught these men and women in their time of learning.  The laughter, the camaraderie, the testing of their abilities… these are gifts for which we are so very thankful.

Today is a special day -- a time of recognition of hard work and dreams realized.  So we give you thanks that you gave these people the integrity and strength to make it through this far.  We give you thanks for their courage to follow their vision and see it to fruition.  It is also a stepping stone to the next stage of the fulfillment of their vision – give these individuals the strength to go those next miles that stretch before them.

To all of these who will step up and be recognized today, I ask that you give a sense of pride in their accomplishment. Also remind them that they didn’t make it alone, that there were many who helped along the way – and they need to make sure they say their thanks to those folks.

But also remind them in each of their futures that YOU are interested in their success, and they are never alone in their journeys.

For all your gifts we give you thanks indeed.  But especially today we give you thanks for the ability to reach for the stars and grasp them with joy.

Your strength enables us to protect others, your providence keeps us safe – help us to turn our hearts towards you each and every day.   In the name of the Creator, the Savior, and the Sustainer.  AMEN.

Change of Command

Giver of life and Almighty LORD our God, today we come to you with deep gratitude in our hearts for all the gifts you give us each day.

What an honor to call upon you of behalf of our military community and to know that we not only can, but are invited to ask your presence in our midst.

We remember to you [outgoing commander's rank and name] and [spouse's name].  Their time here at [name of base] is ending and they are moving to new places that you have called them to serve. We ask that you keep your hand of grace on them as they head out to their new horizons.

Today we also lift to you a new leader for [new commander's unit], [new commander's rank and name].  Grant abundant blessings upon [him/her], [his/her] spouse, and [his/her] family.  I ask that you give [him/her] wisdom to weather the storms of [his/her] time here and learn from them; give [him/her] a steel backbone to be a [man/woman] of integrity; and especially to have the compassion that will enable [him/her] to be a leader in a way that is redemptive and capable. [S/He] will be given this command today; help [him/her] to accept it as a sacred trust and that [s/he] will guard and use it appropriately.

Alternate: Taking charge of [commander's responsibility] here at [name of base] is a huge undertaking.  [New Commander's rank and name] is up to the task, [s/he] has been trained, given the experiences needed, and thus is prepared for [his/her] new role.  Keep [him/her] humble at all times to know that [s/he] doesn’t have all of the answers.  Give [him/her] wisdom so that [s/he] will seek your favor. Grant [him/her] confidence to believe that everything [s/he] does is in keeping with your Word and Way;  we want [him/her] to have such clarity of vision that [s/he] will be able to rightly lead us all during these uncertain times.

We pray also for [new commander's spouse] and their children.  They are all starting out on a new adventure here at [name of base]. Give them all strength to weather the bumpy parts of their journey and a cheerful spirit to enjoy all of life with laughter, pure and clean.

I implore your blessings for the men and women of the [new commander's unit] as well as for all of your people who serve and work at [name of base].

Your strength enables us to protect others, your providence keeps us safe; help us to turn our hearts towards you each and every day.  In the name of the Creator, the Savior, and the Sustainer.  AMEN.

Unit Realignment

Giver of life and Almighty LORD our God, today we come to you with deep gratitude in our hearts for all the gifts you give us each day – family, loved ones, good friends, laughter, our great jobs.  Help us always to receive these gifts with thanksgiving and may our hearts be stirred to remember all of your mercies which we receive through your love towards us.

Today we gather to facilitate a transforming and streamlining of our management structure.  It will present everyone involved with an exciting challenge: a challenge to be flexible in the midst of unknown variables – Lord, give them patience;  a challenge for their creativity – Lord, give them vision; a challenge for each to continue to do their jobs well in the midst of all the changes – Lord, give them integrity.

We lift to you the new Commander, [name and rank of new commander], who will be taking command over the newly transformed structure. We pray for strength, integrity, and compassion as [s/he] leads [his/her] people thru these new challenges.

Your strength enables us to protect others, your providence keeps us safe – help us to turn our hearts towards you each and every day. In the name of the Creator, the Savior, and the Sustainer.  AMEN.

Farewell

Giver of life and Almighty LORD our God, today we come to you with deep gratitude in our hearts for all the gifts you give us each day – family, loved ones, good friends, laughter, our great jobs.  Help us always to receive these gifts with thanksgiving and may our hearts be stirred to remember all of your mercies which we receive through your love towards us.

We remember to you today [name and rank of person leaving].  [His/Her] time at [name of base] is ending and [s/he] is soon leaving for the new place that you have called [him/her] to serve. So we ask that you keep your hand of grace on [him/her] as [s/he] sets out to face new situations and opportunities.

This new phase of [his/her] life will present some exciting challenges.  A challenge to be flexible in the midst of unknown variables – Lord, give [him/her] patience.   A challenge for creativity – Lord, give [him/her] vision. A challenge to continue to live life well in the midst of changes – Lord, give [him/her] integrity.

We ask also that you bless [his/her] [wife/husband], [name of spouse], who is here to support [him/her] through this day and through the new challenges. Give them both your strength and grace as together they step off into this new endeavor.  And, of course, we ask a special blessing for them that they may they grow, together and deeper, as the years go by.  Thank you for the blessing they have both been [to our Chapel community and] to the base community.

Your strength enables us to protect others, your providence keeps us safe – help us to turn our hearts towards you each and every day.   In the name of the Creator, the Savior, and the Sustainer.  AMEN.

Retirement

Giver of life and Almighty LORD our God, today we come to you with deep gratitude in our hearts for all the gifts you give us each day – family, loved ones, good friends, laughter, our great jobs.  Help us always to receive these gifts with thanksgiving and may our hearts be stirred to remember all of your mercies which we receive through your love towards us.

We remember to you [rank and name of retiree].  [His/Her] time at [name of base] is ending and [s/he] will soon begin a new stage of life's journey. So we ask that you keep your hand of grace on [him/her] as [s/he] sets out to explore new horizons.

[S/He] is retiring from the [branch of service], but not from life. This new phase of [his/her] life will present some exciting challenges.  A challenge to be flexible in the midst of unknown variables – Lord, give [him/her] patience.   A challenge for creativity – Lord, give [him/her] vision. A challenge to continue to live life well in the midst of changes – Lord, give [him/her] integrity.

And perhaps most difficult, a challenge to slow down and enjoy life a little bit more – Lord, give [him/her] joy and peace in the quietness.  And help [him/her] to be grateful for a life full of mission and purpose – may [s/he] find new ways to be fulfilled in the years to come.

We ask also that you bless [his/her] [wife/husband] and children, [who are here to support her through this day]. Give them your strength and grace as all together they step off into this new endeavor.  And, of course, we ask a special blessing for this whole family that they may they grow, together and deeper, as the years go by.

Your strength enables us to protect others, your providence keeps us safe – help us to turn our hearts towards you each and every day.   In the name of the Creator, the Savior, and the Sustainer.  AMEN.

Memorial 1

Almighty Creator, today we come to you with the deepest gratitude in our hearts for all the gifts you give us each day – family, loved ones, good friends, laughter, our jobs.  Help us always to receive these gifts with thanksgiving and may our hearts be stirred to remember all of your mercies which we receive through your love towards us.

Today as we gather, we give recognition to the spirit that made our country great – a willingness to give totally of ourselves, even unto death.  For the great blessing of being a part of this country we give you thanks.  For the joy and beauty this [man/woman]* brought to our lives we also give you thanks --  you lent them to us for a short time, and we were blessed by their presence.  [*name of person(s) can be used]

Today as we gather to give recognition for all that [s/he] gave to us and [his/her] country, help us to be ever mindful of all that we still have.  It is your strength that enables us to protect others, it is your providence that keeps us safe – help us to turn our hearts towards you each and every day. AMEN.

Memorial 2/Veterans Day

Loving God, as we gather here today our hearts are full of memories of friends and comrades who served under arms in the great wars of this century.  We come to remember those who fell in battle and those who, while they did not die, offered their bodies, minds, hearts, and energies to fighting for a better world.  We ask Lord that you would grace us with your presence, that you  would help us in our pain, and that you would hear our prayers and have regard for our thoughts this day.

Bless us - and bless all those who gave the best of themselves for our country - we ask this In the name of the Creator, the Savior, and the Sustainer.  AMEN.

Memorial/Veterans Day Responsive

Leader:  We must stop often to remember all those who gave their lives for freedom throughout the world. Lord God, we remember today how you have treated us and our nation in the past, and how - in good faith - so many gave their lives and energy to resist the evil of their day  and so help make the world a better place. Today, we stop to honor those [for specific memorials insert unit name] who gave their very life’s blood for the cause of freedom.

All: We remember the great courage of many. We remember the selfless service of all.   We remember the selfless sacrifice for the freedom of others.

Leader:   When we recall the thousands of enlisted and officer, women and men, old and young, single and married, American-born and those born in countries around the world who did not escape the war torn fields of death, we can say together,

All: We remember the loss of human life. We remember and give thanks for the valiant commitment of our comrades to those in need. We give thanks for those who live on to pass on life and love.

Leader: When we remember the millions of Americans who gave so generously of their life and labor to care for the families of the fallen, we can say together,

All: We are grateful for the generosity and camaraderie of the military family. We are thankful that we can all serve in different ways.

Leader: Today is a day to remember.

All:  And we remember the affliction of our brothers and sisters, marking their pain as our own. Remembrance is a sacred moment when we raise up and hold it to the light of the eternal moment, acknowledge the good of those who have passed, and celebrate the continued goodness of those who remain.

Leader: We remember the faith of our ancestors in Your goodness, and how - in fear and trembling - and in hope and confidence - they committed themselves completely and gave themselves wholly to that which they believed to be just, and good, and true.

All: Guard and guide our country so that in our search for freedom and security we who are alive now may also be good and may not trample the rights of the innocent nor disregard the rule of law. Help us to bring freedom to each person with whom we come in contact.

Leader: Help us Lord, to not be ones who shirk back from the path of commitment when things become difficult.  Make us peacemakers and workers of that which tends to bring justice in the face of injustice; plenty in the face of need; harmony in the place of discord.

All: We light a candle to light the way to a better world for our children and our children's children, and all the children of God.  We must hold firmly to our unity, borne forward now not of tragedy but of loving kindness.

Leader:  God of the ages, before your eyes all empires rise and fall yet you are changeless.  Be near us in this age of terror and in these moments of remembrance.  Uphold those who still work and watch and wait and weep and love.  By your Spirit give rise in us to broad sympathy for all the peoples of your earth.  Strengthen us to comfort those who mourn and work in large ways and small for those things that make for peace for all peoples.  Bless the people and leaders of this nation and all nations so that warfare, like slavery before it, may become only a historic memory.  We pray in the strong name of the Prince of Peace,

All: Amen.

Veterans Day

Introduction

In 1918, in the eleventh hour of the eleventh day in the eleventh month, the world rejoiced and celebrated. After four years of bitter war, an armistice was signed. The "war to end all wars" was over.

On Armistice Day, soldiers who survived the war marched in a parade through their home towns. Politicians and veteran officers gave speeches and held ceremonies of thanks for the peace they had won.

But Americans realized that the previous war would not be the last one. World War II began not long after, and nations great and small again participated in a bloody struggle.

Today, we continue to remember the women and men who have sacrificed over the years to bring freedom and peace to an entire world.   We remember those from the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Operation Just Cause in Panama, Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada, The Gulf War, and NATO peacemaking efforts in Bosnia, and Albania, and finally today -- in our fight against terrorism on our shores, in Afghanistan, and in Iraq.

Togo D. West, Jr., Secretary of the Army in 1997 said, "War is an uncertain business and yet on every uncertain day that our nation has had to face the grim business of defending itself [and others], Americans have stepped forward."

And today we are still stepping forward, sacrificing many things that civilians take for granted, in order to be part of the vision for peace for our world.

Today though, we come and remember not just the men, not just the women, but all those who have sacrificed.  It is not about gender, it is about going to war with a unit, risking your life with them, it is about believing in peace - and living a life based on that belief.

We are going to take a moment today and meditate on the sacrifice of these who have gone before us.  Let us give God thanks for the legacy of peace and wisdom they have left us.  May we each be worthy in our own lives of that legacy.   Join me in a moment of silence and remembrance . . .

Prayer

[Sixty seconds of silent meditation]

O Lord, we give you thanks for all our gifts, but today we give you thanks for these men and women [optional: specific unit name] who sacrificed for all people across the world who believe in continuing the cause of peace and freedom.  AMEN.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Almighty Creator, today we come to you with the deepest gratitude in our hearts for all the gifts you give us each day – family, loved ones, good friends, laughter, our great jobs.  Help us always to receive these gifts with thanksgiving and may our hearts be stirred to remember all of your mercies which we receive through your love towards us.

Today as we gather, we give recognition to the spirit that made our country great – a willingness to give totally of ourselves for freedom for all peoples, even unto death. For the great blessing of being a part of this country we give you thanks.

For the conviction of those who refused to sit in the back of the bus, we give you thanks.  For all the women and men of every race and creed who were, and still are, willing to sacrifice to see a dream of equality come to fruition, we give you thanks.

For the legacy of peace and wisdom they have each left us, we give you thanks.  May we each be worthy in our own lives of that legacy.

Today as we gather to give recognition for all that they have bequeathed us and their country, help us to be ever mindful of all that we have gained -- and all that we must still accomplish.

Your strength enables us to protect others, your providence keeps us safe – help us to turn our hearts towards you each and every day. AMEN.

Women's Day 1

Giver of life and Almighty LORD our God, today we come to you with deep gratitude in our hearts for all the gifts you give us each day – family, loved ones, good friends, laughter, our jobs.  Help us always to receive these gifts with thanksgiving and may our hearts be stirred to remember all of your mercies which we receive through your love towards us.

Today as we gather, we praise you for the opportunity to come together to affirm our identity and celebrate our common hope.  We thank you for the quality of achievement that is represented in each woman here today, and for the many and diverse efforts that continue to contribute toward the building of a better world.

We remember the women whose blood flows through our veins: women who fought for the right to vote, women who refused to bow to discrimination, women who sacrificed willingly and fought for human dignity for all peoples.  Give us your strength today to follow in their footsteps and seek the freedom for the peoples who voices we hear in need in our world today.

Help us to be loving in the midst of ignorance and oppression, and yet firmly convicted to challenge inequality.  Encourage us in the midst of spitefulness and give us resolve to always treat all peoples with respect.

Be with us here today in the laughter and the serious conversation and through the time of refreshments.   May we live in harmony with you and one another, for the glory of your Name and the edification of women and men everywhere.  To you, LORD, be honor and glory, now and forever.  AMEN.

Women's Day 2

Giver of life and Almighty LORD our God, today we come to you with deep gratitude in our hearts for all the gifts you give us each day – family, loved ones, good friends, laughter, our jobs.  Help us always to receive these gifts with thanksgiving and may our hearts be stirred to remember all of your mercies which we receive through your love towards us.

Today as we gather, we give recognition to the beauty and strength of the women here with us today.  So much promise is shining in their faces and we give you thanks that their future is in Your hands.   Do not let the Evil One snatch it from them.  So many hurdles have been overcome and so many dreams are yet to be fulfilled – and You walk right beside us all – and for this we are grateful.

It is such a privilege to work together as male and female – each with differing insights and perspectives, even as each gender has differing abilities and gifts from you.  Give us the wisdom and strength to live with integrity, and to always seek your grace and have the courage of stick-to-it’ness. 

Help us to be loving in the midst of ignorance and oppression and yet firm convicted to challenge inequality.  Encourage us in the midst of spitefulness and resolve us to always treat our own and our opposite genders with respect.

For the gift of each other we give you thanks.  Be with us here in the laughter and the serious conversation and through the time of refreshments.   AMEN.

Women's Day Benediction

Lord, dismiss us with your blessing.  Increase the resolve within us to cherish each person, young or old, male or female, to see beauty more as being more internal, tied to will and personality than exterior tied to the flesh and visual. Let the conversations of this afternoon continue to impact our thinking in ways which are pleasing in your sight.  For in the beginning you created us as male and female and declared that it was good.  And indeed it was good!  May we live in harmony with you and one another, for the glory of your Name and the edification of women and men everywhere.  To you, LORD, be honor and glory, now and forever.  AMEN.

Ribbon Cutting/New Facilities

Righteous God, you rule the nations.  We pray that you guard all the brave men and women in military service.  Though for a season we must be people of war, help us to live for peace.   Encourage our hearts as we try to encourage one another.

We bless this building and accept it as a sacred trust and pray that we will guard and use it appropriately.  Let your love rest upon the people within and your presence of peace be manifested in it.  You have told us that there is strength in unity and that a divided house will fall . Help each person here to do their part to make this new building a place where harmony, hard work, and teamwork reign.

We take a moment to give you thanks for the contribution of [name and rank of commanders].  They have given so much of their time, effort, resources, and love to our community at large, but especially so to [unit or base name].  For their sacrifice and caring we give you thanks and ask for your blessings to rest deep in their hearts today.

Almighty Creator, sometimes our resolve weakens, sometimes we grow weary, sometimes we just don’t even have the strength to walk the road of integrity. Yet then we remember your promise to Isaiah “Yet those that wait upon the Lord shall mount up with wings of an eagle.  They shall walk and not stumble, they shall run and not grow weary.”  And when we remember this promise we are strengthened and able to be who we need to be.  Today, may each of these gathered here today feel the freedom of an eagle’s heart and know the fullness of your love.   AMEN.

New Unit Formation

Righteous God, you rule the nations.  We pray that you guard all the brave men and women in the service of world peace.  Though for a season we must be people of war, help us to live for peace.  Encourage our hearts as we try to encourage one another.

We are gathered here tonight to celebrate [with an Inaugural Dining Out] the formation of this new [unit name or type]. It is still a work in process, but you have given us the creativity and integrity to stick with it, and we will do so 

We are reminded that you have told us that there is strength in unity and that a divided house will fall  --  help each person here to do their part to make this new [unit] a place where harmony, hard work, and teamwork reign.

We are each entrusted with the task of peacemaking--in our homes, in our workplaces, in our nations, in our world. Yet we are each finite and frail, unable to know the full implications of the decisions we make during our seasons of faith and learning in our lives.

Yet God, we thank you for inspiring us, nourishing us, and uniting us with this vision of a community of peacemakers.  Grant to us the wisdom that comes through the synergism of faith and action, help us to be your people of peace in all the nations of the world. I pray this in the name of the Creator, the Savior, and the Sustainer. AMEN.

Maj. Robin Stephenson-Bratcher is a Chaplain in the United States Air Force.

-Dennis Bratcher, Copyright © 2013, Dennis Bratcher - All Rights Reserved
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