Charlotte Richter/ Staff Writer
Guest speaker Chaplain (retired Col.) Peter Sniffin shared how religious practice benefits human health and resilience during the National Day of Prayer Luncheon May 5 at the Frontier Conference Center.
The president proclaims the National Day of Prayer as a way to exercise the first freedom in the Bill of Rights, Sniffin said. He explained religious practice is beneficial to an individual’s well-being and relationships. He said weekly religious practice is the number one resiliency factor in humans.
He referenced the research of Dr. Tyler Vanderweele, the John L. Loeb and Frances Lehman Loeb professor of epidemiology at Harvard University, who studied the parallels between religious practice and human health.
“That research finds this: people who practice (religion on a weekly basis) are more optimistic, have greater overall life satisfaction, have lower rates of depression, have greater sense of purpose of life, have more and better social connections, have greater material stability and practice healthier lifestyles.”
He said those looking to lead and exercise command responsibly should turn to resources such as unit ministry teams.
“Embrace what faith can do for your formation, and never settle for less than the leadership of the greatest generation… It’s important for Army leaders to take time to pause, have religious reflection because it builds operational knowledge and wisdom.”
He referenced the global force of faith and the increased likelihood of a more religious future. He said even as nations such as China move to change scripture and repress religious expression, historically, religions tend to grow under persecution.
Sniffin said leaders should also consider resiliency through religion to manage life circumstances. He cited Psalm 18 (“The Lord is my rock…”) and referenced General Ulysses S. Grant’s movements during the Civil War to encourage the audience to stay on the paths they’ve made in life and persevere through hardship.
Sniffin told the audience to remember a promise from the first chapter of Joshua, that emphasizes God’s presence and forgiveness, especially in moments of loneliness.
“We discussed a number of reasons why it’s important to pause for reflection on faith, but the most important is to ensure that your life is built on the rock who will forever sustain you, no matter what comes your way.”
Sniffin is a fourth-generation Army officer who retired after more than 30 years of active-duty military service. He currently serves as an adjunct professor of leadership for Liberty University and as the senior adviser for chaplain outreach for Ligonier Ministries. He previously served as an ordained teaching elder from the Eastern Pennsylvania Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America.
Sniffin holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the Virginia Military Institute, a master of divinity from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, a master of military arts and science from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and a master of strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College.