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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