Prayer ministry adopts deployed Fort Hood soldiers

KILLEEN?Many churches support American troops fighting overseas, but Skyline Baptist Church in Killeen is putting feet to their support through an innovative prayer ministry that is changing lives and hearts.

The church, located near Fort Hood, participates in an interdenominational prayer ministry called Pray FAST?an acronym for Pray For A Soldier Team. The program recruits local congregations to pray for soldiers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan then assigns each willing “prayer warrior” three soldiers for whom to pray by name during their tour.

All soldiers deployed from Fort Hood are asked before heading overseas whether they would like someone to pray for them by name. Those who request prayer fill out cards with their personal information and prayer requests, and the information is passed along to their prayer warriors.

“Our church has a big heart for the military because we are very close to Fort Hood,” Skyline pastor Kenny Rawls said. “In fact, I would say that just by guesstimate, one-third of our active membership are active duty at Fort Hood. So we have a tremendous number of spouses who attend our church whose husbands are away fighting in Iraq or in Afghanistan.”

Such an intimate connection with the Army led naturally to fervent prayer for the troops.

“I feel very helpless as a civilian,” Rawls said. “We’re at war. What can we do? This is just one way that we as American citizens can get involved with this war.”

Many Skyline members know firsthand the benefits of prayer because fellow believers interceded for them when they were deployed overseas. One is Sgt. 1st Class Wally Northam.

He served three tours in Iraq and was on the prayer list at his mother’s church in Collinsville, Miss., each time. Church members would mail him cards expressing their prayer support, and Northam would look through them before he went on missions.

“You leave out of the gate everyday and you are constantly fearful,” he said. “You don’t want to put on a false front, but you can’t let your subordinates see that you’re scared or else they become scared and then nobody can actually perform when they have to. So what I found with these cards was that the more of them you read, the better you felt.

“So it kind of became an addicting feeling so that you weren’t just putting up a false front. You actually weren’t scared anymore, and your subordinates weren’t scared anymore. So they saw you confident and they were confident.”

When Northam’s fellow soldiers saw how prayer benefited him, they wanted people to pray for them too. The desire for prayer led to the platoon saying the Lord’s Prayer together before each mission.

In fact, a similar desire for prayer has spread throughout the military so that today, as many as 85 percent of all soldiers deployed from Fort Hood request a prayer partner.

“I would go so far as to say I don’t know if I would be alive if I didn’t [have people praying for me],” Northam said.

A RENEWED FAITH

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