Let’s face it: even in a country with an all-volunteer military, not everyone is a good fit for the armed forces. Between those with physical or mental ailments, others who are excluded (by policy) because they are too old or too young, or people with certain other obligations and beliefs, some citizens will remain in civilian life.
When this has happened in the past, though, civilians still have the opportunity to help. In my country, citizens could help support soldiers in past wars through purchasing bonds, and were encouraged to conserve resources by planting their own “victory gardens”. In other cases, certain goods are rationed – forcibly or voluntarily – to ensure that the military has the best possible chance of achieving the country’s goals.
This isn’t an article about military decisions, though, nor whether or not a person (or even a country) should engage in armed conflict. It is about a real war, though. Take a look at this verse from the book of Romans:
Dear brothers and sisters, I urge you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to join in my struggle by praying to God for me. Do this because of your love for me, given to you by the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:30 NLT
The adverse conditions that Paul experienced (while sharing good news about Jesus) were severe (see 2 Corinthians 11:23-27). He was on the front lines of an active battle, with other people attacking him, and evil forces resisting the spread of the Gospel.
However, note that Paul didn’t ask his readers to leave their homes and travel around the north and east sides of the Mediterranean Sea (which Paul did in his various missionary journeys). He didn’t ask them to arm themselves and fight against the Roman Empire (which wasn’t a good idea, at the time). He didn’t even ask them to send money. He asked them to be a part of the process, through prayer.
Now, God does often call His followers to get out and give up some of their comforts. He absolutely calls some people to travel and spread the Gospel far from their home town. He calls others to work for positive change in their respective nations. He instructs the righteous to be generous. However, for those that He calls to pray in a specific situation, this role is no less loving or righteous than others.
The person who – in response to God’s calling – earnestly and regularly prays for another person, ministry, or opportunity is no less a part of the Kingdom of God, as compared to a Christian missionary, pastor, author, elder, or other ministry participant.
To be clear, this isn’t an excuse to ignore the Holy Spirit’s direction, when we are called to service in something other than prayer (or, more likely, in addition to prayer). When you get the prompting to pray, do it with all your heart. When you are directed to a different aspect of the Christian life, and are called do something else to help people, don’t just tell them that you’ll pray for them (and then immediately forget to do so). You can – and probably should – still pray for them, but also do whatever else God tells you do.
If you are called to be a prayer warrior, though, don’t let the lies of evil voices tell you that you aren’t an important part of the battle. Don’t let other people tell you that you are any less of a follower of Jesus, when you are asking for God’s intervention on behalf of others. And, perhaps most importantly, don’t put any less effort into your prayer life, as compared to what those on the “front lines” put into their ministries. It takes hard work, and it takes sacrifice, but – as we see elsewhere in the Body of Christ – it’s all important.
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.