As we mark the 74th anniversary of D-Day Wednesday – a pivotal day when Allied forces landed in France to begin the liberation of Europe from the Nazis in World War II – I’m reminded how this historical moment wouldn’t have happened without the courageous Americans who responded to the call to serve their country.
It all began with three words: “Remember Pearl Harbor.” These words rallied people to enlist in the military after the Japanese attack on the U.S. Navy base in Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941. The tragic attack pulled America together in a dark time, when war threatened everything we valued — our families, friends and our very freedoms.
Similarly, 60 years later, many people were inspired to unite and enlist in the military to serve their country after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Millions of Americans have entered military service since that day.
Army Sgt. and recruiter Cheri Depenbrock told the American Forces Press Service in 2001 that she had never seen such resolve to defend America as she did after 9/11.
“It was amazing the people walking into (our Cincinnati) office, the ages,” Depenbrock said. “We had so many prior-service folks wanting to come back. I was amazed at how many older people tried … some of them were in their fifties.”
“It was all about the patriotism. They didn’t care about anything else. Money had nothing do with it. I swear, I think half those (younger) kids would have joined if we hadn’t paid them.”
Did these inspiring phenomena happen because our country suddenly became more patriotic in both of these cases of national tragedy? Not necessarily. We were sobered as a country by both attacks. But we were also suddenly and violently made aware of enemies who wanted us dead and threatened our values. And every generation who loved their country and livelihoods enough responded.
Yes, we were sobered. But we were not numbed by any means. We were made aware, we resolved to unite, and we readied ourselves to fight back against darkness, no matter what might try to hold us back.
As Christians, it can be all too easy to go about our daily lives without ever thinking about how we are at war with dark spiritual forces that we can’t always see. But Paul warns us not to be complacent, saying “keep alert with all perseverance” (Ephesians 6:18).
How can you play your part and persevere in this spiritual war?
Your secret weapon is prayer. Prayer might not feel particularly aggressive or militant, but it is by prayer alone that you and I can engage and overcome the enemy of our souls. This kind of prayer could be called “warfare prayer.”
Think of it this way: warfare prayer is a discipline, an attack aimed at the forces of darkness that we must be aware of around us. To engage in warfare prayer is to ask for God’s help to get in on his plan, not to ask him for help with our plans. Warfare prayer worships God for the love he lavishes on us daily. In short, warfare prayer is full of gratitude.
But warfare prayer is also hard work. Paul does not give us any leeway for time off. He tells us again in Ephesians 6:18 to be “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.”
We know how prayer can change our lives and attitudes. But if you have not yet thought of prayer as a powerful weapon, let me encourage you with this: our world needs more believers like you dispelling the darkness as you fight these spiritual battles. Warfare, with God’s help, begins on your knees.