For as long as I can remember, the Scripture from II Chronicles 7:14 has been promoted as a foundational promise for the National Day of Prayer.
“If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will be merciful to their sins and heal their land.” II Chronicles 7:14
Yet, when I read this passage, I just shake my head thinking, “There is no way this is ever going to happen!” Then I must quickly remind myself that
with God, ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE!
Without looking at “God’s people” or “the Church” and presume to throw stones of criticism, I will look at my own life. I can ask, “Am I following this Scripture promise? Do I really humble myself or do I still think my interpretation of Scripture and Doctrine is right as compared to Teaching of the Twelve and the Church Fathers? Am I praying “the Prayers” like the first Christians as recorded in Acts 2:42 or making up my own?
“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” Acts 2:42
And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers (Gr. the prayers).
All of this is about seeking God’s face and turning from my ways – my ways of self-fulfilling worship style, my systematic theology, my “Jesus” that I’ve created in my own understanding. I have to ask myself, “Do I even know what the Apostles’ Doctrine teaches in contrast to my 21st Century American Christianity?”
Action Plan: Learn Humility and Seek God’s Face.
God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. (James 4:6)
A Prayer for Today
As the deer pants for the water,
so my soul longs for You, O Lord.
I lift up my soul unto You, My God.
Is any thirsty?
Let them drink from the Rivers of Living Water.
Come, Holy Spirit, abide in me,
O Giver of Life and Treasurer of Good Things.
Please open to me the Gates of Repentance!
Create in me a clean heart and renew the right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from Your presence because of my foolish presumption,
but renew in me this presumption:
that I would love You, the One True God,
with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength and
love my neighbor as You gave commandment.
Restore to me the Joy of Your Salvation
and let the bones which You have humbled, rejoice!
In Your presence, there is the fullness of Joy!
Glory to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit –
One God – now and ever, and unto the ages of ages! Amen!
Love you in Christ Jesus!
Prayer Around City Hall is about . . . Prayer
Have you ever attended a “Prayer Meeting” only to discover that the majority of the time was filled with stuff other than prayer? Really? I have, too. Prayer Around City Hall is totally about “Prayer.” Sometimes that seems to be too much for people to endure. So year after year, I’ve set up the keyboard and played some background “prayerful” music unto the Lord.
I believe it was St. Augustine who said, “He who sings, prays twice.” Sometimes during the various prayers, I would enter into a Chorus of “Give Thanks” or “Lord, have mercy”.
This year, we were blessed to have the following people lead in prayer. Some are pastors, others are community servants and businessmen.
Pastor E.T. Pickett III – Word Alive Ministries
Ed Kirkland – Harvest of Souls Ministry & Harvest Meat Markets
Pastor Jon Friedt – Believer’s Fellowship
Pastor Bernie Hill – Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church
Dr. Greg Morris – Leadership Dynamics
R. Stanley Parks – EPIC Church
Ray Allen – Southeastern University
James Joseph – United City
Dr. Richard Harris – Southeastern University
Pastor Eddie Lake – New Bethel AME Church
Bishop Judy Kahler – Saint Bridget’s Celtic Christian Church
Pastor James Collins – Bethany Christian Church
Fr. David Peoples – St. Stephen’s Episcopal
Pastor Brannen Padgett – Redemption Church
Claudia Jordan – Talbot House Ministries
Pastor Derek Kelly – Heart of the Father Ministry
Lew Frye – Integrity Business Referrals
Fr. Wade Fahnestock – St. Andrew Church
Central Florida Food Banks leaders Tony Allen and Donnie McClellan not only joined us in fervent prayer but provided water. Pastor Bernie Hill supplied the ice and coolers. Martha Zambrano (Fr. Wade’s wife) helped set up and coordinated the sign-in table. Claudia Jordan from Talbot house assisted with logistics. Dr. Greg Morris provided input on the format and names of our current governmental leaders. Pastor Derek Kelly from Heart of the Father Ministry lead in prayer and his team helped with the audio system. I’ll cover some more of these specifics in the days to come as well as provide a few follow-up interviews.
All of this was made possible by our sponsors Harvest Meat Markets, Central Florida Food Banks, and Keller Williams Realty. Additional support was provided by Steve and Stephanie Madden, James and Dory Joseph, and Lew and Marleen Frye of Integrity Builders, and facilitated by St. Andrew Church, Lakeland.
In our prayers!
St. Andrew Church
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The sidewalk, lawn, and steps of Lakeland’s City Hall were blessed on Thursday, May 4, 2017, as compassionate citizens and clergy gathered for the 66th annual observance of the National Day of Prayer. We picked up the torch from prior generations and assembled for Prayer Around City Hall.
A Little History…
Calling the city to prayer was a desire placed in my heart back in 2006. I was a Deacon at St. Thomas More Old Catholic Mission and serving in the music ministry at Lakeland’s First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). My first objective was to find out what had happened in the past, not wanting to supplant any revival fires already burning. I picked up the mantle and supplies from Janey Stratton and Janice Stringer and in 2006 with the help of my friends, organized the first “Reflections of Prayer” at Lake Mirror.
Reflections of Prayer continued the following year in 2007, however, I was away at a conference.
I had heard about the Global Day of Prayer being observed on the day of Pentecost, so in 2008, our task force began a season of prayer and community service. It was the first year I organized Prayer Around City Hall – an outdoor noon event, followed by Reflections of Prayer at Lake Mirror.
This year was different because for the next TEN DAYS we met at different Churches around the city for prayer. Then the day of Pentecost came where participating Churches prayed the Prayer for the World. Community Service followed with the “40 Days of Blessing” as we encouraged Lakelanders to volunteer their time by partnering with established ministries already serving the Lakeland area.
This year (2017), United City was organizing the evening event at Lake Mirror, but I felt that the Lord wanted me to again facilitate Prayer Around City Hall.
Stepping out in faith, I started making some phone calls to connect with people who may be interested. I want to mention Ed Kirkland and Harvest Meat Markets for stepping up to the plate and becoming the first sponsor. Otherwise, this event would not have taken place.
And They Sang a New Song…
And they sang a new song, saying:
“You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
And have made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth.”
Back in March of 2006, I first shared my dream with others about transforming the landscape of prayer in Lakeland, Florida. I wrote in one email, “I really believe in my heart that the Lord has called me to orchestrate and promote a gathering of Bishops, Clergy, Laity, Ministries, Governmental Officials, Civic and Social Leaders of our community for a Day of Prayer. It is an opportunity to come together, recognize and embrace the diversity of traditions and culture, to petition God for ‘Holy Spirit empowerment’ with fervent love one toward another.
I do not see this as a stiff, stale ‘anglo-only’ assembly. I see it as a vibrant, heartfelt, animated time of fellowship and ministry – a time to humble ourselves as servants of one another, preferring one another and forgiving one another. It’s a time for bitterness and competition to give way to a unified purpose of asking God to forgive us and our land of our sin and wrongdoing. It’s a time of fasting from seeking our own plans and pursuits to becoming instruments of peace in helping the widows and orphans, the poor and the outcast.”
I know that I’m not alone in this vision. This vision is not for a single person or group, but for a city – a community. We might not be able to transform a nation, but we can transform our own life with humility as the Lord opens unto us the Gates of Repentance. Then, one by one, a community begins to heal.
(More to come)
Love in Christ Jesus!
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National Day of Prayer
“Fasting and prayer are religious exercises; the enjoining them an act of discipline. Every religious society has a right to determine for itself the time for these exercises, and the objects proper for them, according to their own particular tenets; and right can never be safer than in their hands, where the Constitution has deposited it.”
—Thomas Jefferson, 1808
Our personal relationship with Christ is ALSO
“me in the Church – the Body of Christ”.
It’s here that I have a tangible relationship
with the hands, eyes, and feet of Jesus.
Just as there are aches and growing pains in our physical bodies, so to the personal relationship with Jesus’ hands, eyes, and feet is often uncomfortable – even painful.
Working love – We encounter a suffering when becoming joined and knitted firmly together by the supply from every joint. Love patiently endures the pain coming through this (other) personal relationship with Jesus – His body – the Church.
in Christ’s love,
Rise up early and pray! Pray in humility, in faith, in love, in forgiveness. Pray for those near and far, your friends and foes, and pray for me, a sinner!
This reminds me of Great and Holy Lent. It’s not about just “giving something up”. It’s about the unseen warfare. It’s taking a stand against the passions of hate, lust, greed, bitterness, gluttony, avarice, and above all pride – even spiritual pride.
This battle is fought in all realms – mental, physical, emotional, social, and spiritual. It is won by Words and Actions, with feeling and without feeling, in Shouts and in Silence, in Praise and in Prostrations, in Humility and Repentance – as the Lord, in His grace, opens for us the Gates of Repentance.
It is fought with prayers, fasting, almsgiving, serving others with faith and love. It is demonstrated both in public and in private, within and without.
Oh Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, meddling, the lust of power, and idle talk. (+) But rather give to Your servant the spirit of chastity, humility, patience and love. (+) Yes, oh Lord and King, grant me to see my own sins and not to judge my brother; for You are blessed unto ages of ages. Amen. (+)
(Lenten Prayer of St Ephraim the Syrian)