Last evening, I watched the first airing of the film “12 Strong” based on a true story that occurred beginning on Oct. 19, 2001 as a “first response” to the unforgettable terror attack on September 11, 2001.
The 5th Special Forces Group is one of the most decorated active duty United States Army Special Forces Groups in the U.S. Armed Forces.
The Special Forces Group had been a part of the United States military structure since World War II, though the 5th SFG was formally constituted on April 15, 1960. They had conducted strategic and select missions from the Vietnam War through the late Cold War, Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, etc. Because of the highly classified nature of their operations, the public never really heard about and therefore could not appreciate the courage, effectiveness and heroism displayed by these men in times of warfare.
“12 Strong” is the story of the deployment of the 5th SGA to Afghanistan barely 6 weeks after our nation endured it’s most tragic and shocking attack on the mainland from an outside enemy.
The movie is very well done (produced by Jerry Bruckheimer) and is not for the faint of heart. It follows the calling up and rapid deployment of a 12 man team named “Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) 595.” These 12 men were air-lifted behind enemy lines in Afghanistan, a place where none of them had been before, to serve alongside the Afghan forces that were seeking to oust the Taliban from controlling their country.
I don’t want to give away the story, but I will say that whether you read the book “12 Strong: The Declassified True Story of the Horse Soldiers” or see the movie, the gallantry of these men in the face of extreme obstacles is truly inspiring. What’s more, ODA 595 completed it’s mission in a little over three weeks time, which no one thought was possible.
At the conclusion of the movie during the rolling of the credits, it’s mentioned that due to the “classified nature of these operations” these men simply do not get any recognition for their incredible service to our country. They are content with knowing that they made a remarkable difference in the war of those who were committed to destroying our society and those who wished to preserve the freedoms of which we have been so blessed.
Seeing that paragraph in the credits caught my attention. The balance of the evening and this morning I’ve been reflecting on just how true that same description would be of those men and women who understand the nature of focused prayer, intercession, and what we have termed “spiritual warfare”. These are people who understand that what takes place in the unseen realms through prayer and other disciplines, literally affects the outcome of all of our efforts in the visible, or “seen” realm in which we live.
It is equally true that these prayer warriors receive little if any recognition but find fulfillment in the knowledge that they have made an incredible contribution to establishing the Kingdom of God in difficult and even deadly places and circumstances in our lives.
I wonder if more of us understood how this kind of prayer works and were also able to identify others who wished to be “deployed” in the realm of spiritual warfare, would many more believers step up and get involved?
Through the decades of the ministry that God has allowed me to share, I’ve seen and experienced with my own eyes and heart the difference that strategic prayer and spiritual warfare makes in the establishment and life-changing effectiveness of day-to-day ministries that are all around us.
We will often hear that prayer is important, but not many people see it as the “court of first resort”; or in other words, what someone must do before others may be physically sent in to establish a ministry or make a difference in a particularly difficult situation.
There’s so much that could be said about this, but in this opening installment on this topic, I want to affirm my agreement with those who are convinced of the necessity of “special forces prayer” and also express my heartfelt gratitude to the many hundreds of you who have been faithfully fulfilling this calling, not just in my local church situation here in Pittsburgh, but in places all around the nation and the world.
I’ll comment on this early again next week and give the specific illustrations of how this actually works. For today, just consider how much of a difference we all could make if just a few more of us took this assignment more seriously. Read Ephesians 6 over the next few days and then be prepared to look a little more deeply at how this kind of ministry works. The really good news is that if you are a believer in Christ, you are already qualified to be part of the “Spiritual Special Forces.” It is the tip of the spear in ministry throughout the world.