CON Contact Us DON Donate
Our History General Assembly Worldwide Outreach Ministries Standards Resources

Question and Answer

Prayers by Military Chaplains


In a New Horizons article, an Army chaplain noted that in the course of his duties ministering to the wounded he received a request to "pray in the name of Allah" for a wounded Iraqi. I have heard that in recent years chaplains in the U.S. military have been intimidated into restricting public prayers to politically correct "generic" prayers which do not mention the name of Jesus for fear of offending some members of the military. If this is the situation, how can a true believer even consider doing the work of a chaplain?


For years now, the question of praying in Jesus' name—or not—has been a much addressed issue, sometimes well, and sometimes poorly. For starters, there is no law that a chaplain must pray in the name of Allah, or any other false god, and rather, he is expected to be faithful to the doctrinal and practicing standards of his sending denomination. However, this does not mean that no chaplain is ever the recipient of unofficial (and illegitimate) pressure to give up praying in Christ's name, or to pray in the name of another god. Quite the contrary. And sometimes such experiences end up contributing to the urban legend corpus that chaplains must do such things as you have asked about. Such pressure often, though not always, comes from liberal senior chaplains, primarily directed against conservative junior chaplains. And biblically conservative chaplains sometimes are intimidated, particularly in giving up mention of Christ in prayer—but that most often happens when a young chaplain does not know how to effectively use the regulations, which support his duty to pray according to his conscience and his ordination vows. In fact, in recent years, some events have taken place in which the result has been that chaplains are somewhat better protected theologically than was the case in the past, as when I was serving on active duty. In sum, if a chaplain knows the regulations which protect him, he cannot be forced to blaspheme.

About Q&A

"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. The answers come from individual ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church expressing their own convictions and do not necessarily represent an "official" position of the Church, especially in areas where the Standards of the Church (the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms) are silent.

The questions come from individuals like yourself. If you have questions about biblical and theological matters, you are invited to send them by e-mail by using the "Pose a Question" link on the OPC home page or by clicking here.

At least one new question is posted each week, so there should always be something new here for you to read. (For those people who would like to look at previous questions and answers, they will continue to be available as well.)

The purpose of the OPC website's "Questions and Answers" is to respond to biblical and theological questions. Matters of church discipline, disputes, or debates go beyond the scope of our work. We recommend that you present your concerns in these areas to the appropriate judicatory. In most cases this will be to a local pastor, elder, or session. We do not want the website to replace personal involvement in, or commitment to, the local, visible church.

While we will respond to every serious questioner, we are not bound to give a substantive answer to every question, should we deem the question to be beyond the scope of our purpose or our own ability to answer.

You will receive an answer by e-mail. Please be patient as many of our respondents are busy pastors. The response to your question may take up to two (2) weeks. Some of the questions submitted will be chosen to be posted here, along with the corresponding answers.

Note that the "Questions and Answers" posted on the site have been edited—all personal references are removed, Scripture references or from some source may be added, and sometimes portions are expanded—to make the questions and answers more useful to a larger audience.

© 2020 The Orthodox Presbyterian Church



Chaplains and Military Personnel

Diaconal Ministries


Inter-Church Relations

Ministerial Care

Planned Giving

Short-Term Missions


Church Directory

Daily Devotional

Audio Sermons

Trinity Hymnal

Camps & Conferences

Gospel Tracts

Book Reviews



Presbyterian Guardian