Prayer in whose name

Here is an interesting question for everyone.

I am a seminarian spending the summer doing Army Chaplain training.

One of the debated topics here at the Army Chaplain School is how specifically Christian prayer should be in some public contexts. There are a number of situations in the Army, such as changes of command, that are mandatory attendance for every member of a unit. Usually a chaplain will be asked to say a prayer at these events. Chaplains are often requested not to pray in Christ’s name, which of course also includes Trinitarian formulas that us Catholics usually use.

A chaplain cannot be ordered to not pray in Christ’s name but it might mean that they are no longer asked to pray at these events, or that no chaplains are asked to pray at them, and it might have a negative impact on how some officers, including some other chaplains might view the chaplain in question. The pressure to offer prayers that are not explicitly Christian does not extend to more explicitly religious situations. A Christian chaplain is not going to be asked to lead a Sunday service to a creator God without mentioning Jesus.

Some denominations, like the Missouri Synod Lutherans and some Baptists, have official statements that there chaplains are to only offer explicitly Christian public prayer. I know there is no such official policy for Catholic chaplains.

I personally feel that I could never say a prayer in any situation that was not explicitly Christian. Concluding a prayer with “in your name we pray, Amen” just seems silly to me. It seems to be asking Christian chaplains to occasionally submit to a functional deism or bare-bones monotheism which ignores the revelation of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Frankly if Christ does not bring me into a relationship with God the Father through the working of the Holy Spirit than I’m no good to anyone, including any soldiers I am called to serve as a chaplain. It does not seem reasonable to expect me to pray in a manner which does not reflect this. So whats the consensus here? Am I on track or am I being too much of a pain in the butt?

Ryan Larson
Joliet Diocese Seminarian
"Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever."

I can only say to follow Jesus and not be PC.

Minorities have to accept that they are minorities – as an adoptive mom. I have to accept that most moms can tell the story of their child’s life in utero and the delviery experience. It is OK for me – I am the mom my child wants when he is hurt – that is good enough for me.

The nebulous threats are just that and prayer can be unifying even if explicitly Christian. I love the Holy Spirit, pray for guidance, one of His gifts is bring unity.

Come, Holy Spirit, fill my heart with Your holy gifts. Let my weakness be penetrated with Your strength this very day that I may fulfill all the duties of my state conscientiously, that I may do what is right and just.

Let my charity be such as to offend no one, and hurt no one’s feelings; so generous as to pardon sincerely any wrong done to me.

Assist me, O Holy Spirit, in all my trials of life, enlighten me in my ignorance, advise me in my doubts, strengthen me in my weakness, help me in all my needs, protect me in temptations and console me in afflictions.

Graciously hear me, O Holy Spirit, and pour Your light into my heart, my soul, and my mind.

Assist me to live a holy life and to grow in goodness and grace. Amen.

Prayer of St. Anthony
O God, send forth your Holy Spirit into my heart

that I may perceive,

into my mind that I may remember,

and into my soul that I may meditate.

Inspire me to speak with piety,

holiness, tenderness and mercy.

Teach, guide and direct my thoughts and senses

from beginning to end.

May your grace ever help and correct me,

and may I be strengthened now

with wisdom from on high,

for the sake of your infinite mercy.

Saint Anthony of Padua

St. Paul speaks of being all things to all men. Sometimes you just have to meet the people where they are, keeping your long-range objective always in mind - that is, the salvation of their souls, preferably as members of the Holy Catholic Church. Your showing respect to their religious tradition (non-Trinitarian) can be the beginning of a relationship that leads to their conversion.

God has been Trinity since before the beginning of time, but before the coming of Christ, this had not been revealed to mankind, so prayers were legitimately addressed to Him simply as God. It seems to me, you can still address Him that way, especially if it will help you bring more souls to Him eventually in the fullness of the truth.

Carefully crafted, these public prayers can be full of Catholic truth, while still adhering to the guidelines. Here’s where the Holy Spirit can be a great help to you. I say, don’t be a pain in the butt!


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit