7 Jul 2017

Why I have a little orange army man in my prayer closet

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When the whole nation had crossed the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, “Choose twelve men, one from each tribe, and command them to take twelve stones out of the middle of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests were standing. Tell them to carry these stones with them and to put them down where you camp tonight.”

Then Joshua called the twelve men he had chosen, and he told them, “Go into the Jordan ahead of the Covenant Box of the Lord your God. Each one of you take a stone on your shoulder, one for each of the tribes of Israel. These stones will remind the people of what the Lord has done. In the future, when your children ask what these stones mean to you, you will tell them that the water of the Jordan stopped flowing when the Lord’s Covenant Box crossed the river. These stones will always remind the people of Israel of what happened here.” Joshua 4:1-7


Forgetting what God has done is a human condition that has persisted throughout the ages. When God made a way for Israel across the Jordan He knew that despite the dramatic and miraculous nature of this event, people would still forget what He had done. So the Lord directed Joshua to have stones placed as a reminder. Those stones triggered telling the story of what God had done to future generations.

I find I need tangible reminders. In my prayer closet I have a handmade doily with a cross woven in the pattern of it. The doily was given to me by the director of a retreat that I helped staff. The doily reminds me not only of a powerful weekend filled with God’s grace, but of my loving family of faith and their willingness to serve. You can see the doily beneath the candle in the picture accompanying this post.

You’ll also obviously notice an orange army man. He’s a new addition to my prayer closet that I just picked up last week. As my wife and I were exiting a local diner a box full of little plastic army man stood next to the door with a sign saying, ”

“PLEASE…take a soldier home to remind you to pray for our men and women serving our country.” (see pic below)

What a cool simple prayer trigger to encourage more prayer and about something specific. My son is in the process of trying to enlist and I wonder how many parents pray daily for children they have in the military, not just in our country but around the world.

I’m using my little orange army man to remind me not only to pray for service men and women, but to also pray for peace. I am reminded of a sermon series I did year’s ago on peace. One of my church members, a retired Navy captain, commented, “Many people don’t realize it, but first and foremost our mission is to secure peace.” I personally hadn’t necessarily thought about military service in that way and appreciated his comment.

I don’t know how long I will keep Mr. Orange Army Man in my prayer closet, but for the moment I need him to remind me to pray for peace. I need him to remind me to pray for those who seek to secure peace, whether that be through military service, negotiations or other peace keeping efforts.

Watching the news and complaining about how messed up the world is can be all too easy. Shame on me though if I complain while neglecting the intercessory work that anyone can do. I am grateful that a local diner, Sue and Carol’s Restaurant, gave me an easy way to remember.


If you want to know how to pray more often, few prayer tips are better than just linking prayer to routine daily tasks. Guideposts published a great list of 10 Reminders to Pray. I love their list because each reminder is also associated with a bible verse. For example,

1) While pouring a morning cup of coffee, pray, “God, thank you that your love has been poured out into my heart through the Holy Spirit” (see Romans 5:5).

To read see the other nine prayer triggers, click here for the article.

If you have a favorite way to remind yourself to pray, please share in the comments below.


John Arnold
The Practical Disciple

PS: Do you know your God-given purpose? If not, discover your purpose following easy step-by-step instructions in The 5 Day Purpose Challenge. Sign-up for this invaluable free training, CLICK HERE.

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