Uniting in Prayer
Hundreds of Huntington, West Virginia churches came together—spiritually, not physically—on Sept. 7. The “One Prayer” initiative got its spark from Mayor Steve Williams, who asked churches to unite in prayer to ask for God’s help with the city’s serious drug addiction problems.
The day after, a friend posted a Facebook link from her church of the mayor praying when he visited. Williams read a pair of scriptures before praying, “We come before you as one body, pleading for your guidance.”
He confessed pride, talked of our fears and weaknesses, and noted how a wave of addiction had seized many parts of our city—and our nation. (And much more; it’s worth clicking on the link.)
The Same Message
Two days before this observance, the local newspaper noted a video of Williams asking for help had literally gone viral, with 500,000 views from around the world.
However, what fascinates me is not that word of this initiative spread worldwide. It’s how closely some of what the mayor shared Sept. 7 reflected things said at our church, which devoted the entire service to prayer.
One woman who prayed read from 2 Chronicles 7:13-15, the passage including that familiar verse: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
“If my people…will humble themselves.” Too often, I get the impression Christians’ calls for help could be stated, “God, please clean up all those dirty rotten scoundrels that are making the world such a bad place.”
Sense of Peace
That’s why it was so encouraging to hear the mayor and many members of our church confess our problems and shortcomings.
But there was more, such as the feeling of peace and God’s presence that hung over our sanctuary throughout the service. We’re not a large church, averaging 100 or so on a Sunday. Yet I sensed a connection with hundreds of churches that day, knowing they too were praying for the same thing.
A few days later, when I asked my men’s group what had gone on at their church that day, a friend said, “It doesn’t matter who spoke or what they said, just that we prayed.”
Among the prayers at our church was intercession for several groups I had never thought about in the weeks leading up to this event. That included drug dealers, many whom learned the trade from family members; prostitutes who often sell more drugs than they do their own bodies; and prisoners in the regional jail.
This being the age of social media, there are already Facebook pages and the ubiquitous hashtag #endofaddiction. Hopefully, what happened here will inspire more prayers locally, and more cities to pick up on the mayor’s lead.
Regardless of what happens, though, I believe our city took a major spiritual step forward on Sept. 7. Huntington has long been known as a place with a church on every street corner. But until the mayor’s plea, I don’t think that many had ever come together with a common purpose in mind.
Nevertheless, it is good to see fulfillment of what Paul wrote: “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought” (1 Corinthians 1:10).