Tag Archives: Prayer

BRIEF: Two locations scheduled for National Day of Prayer next week

Prayer Mormon

Boy praying (Photo credit: More Good Foundation and Wikipedia)

The Wilmington citywide observance of The National Day of Prayer will be in two locations at noon on May 3: in downtown Wilmington in the courtyard beside the Main County Library on the corner of Third and Chestnut street, and the second location is Hugh MacRae Park on South College Rd. Each observance will include music and prayer and will last until approximately 1 p.m. There will be prayer for national leaders, local leaders, communities, military, families and many more topics. There will also be opportunities for attendees to pray.

Details: contact Dale Miller at 910-763-2452.

– Amanda Greene

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My FAV Word: Praying for Strangers with Rev. Bob Bauman

By Samantha Freda
WilmingtonFAVS news intern

At Wrightsville United Methodist Church, a sort of spiritual project was taken on for this year’s Lenten Study—a five week course following a book by author River Jordan called “Praying For Strangers”.

This book was written by a woman who—after having two sons deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan—sought comfort in the act of praying for others.  Jordan’s book and accompanying blog are both a reflection of her experience and a guideline for how to engage in a daily practice of prayer for others, in fact, prayer for complete strangers.

Jordan wrote this book based off of this personal experience, a time during which she would pick a person she came across each day and pray for them. In “Praying for Strangers,” Jordan describes how she would often ask a person if they minded if she said a prayer for them, and more times than not that person would have something to share with her—a reason for needing prayer.

The Rev. Bob Bauman, senior pastor of WUMC, explained how 60-70 members of the church read the book and met once a week and share their experiences of participating in this practice themselves.

“I wanted to move the congregation toward an awareness of our daily journey, the people we look past and how that cuts us off from what is around us,” Bauman said. “As we begin to really recognize these people we come across, we realize that they have stories to tell just like we do.”

In these weekly meetings, Bauman opened with his own reflections, then they broke into small groups and went over the Twelve Keys, an aspect of Jordan’s website that provides discussion points for those reading the book together.

“Most people of faith struggle with prayer. Jordan’s method offers the liberation of something as simple as just giving another person a one sentence blessing as you pass them on the street,” Bauman said.

The course, which concluded a few weeks ago, resulted in many similar responses of feeling more connected with the world around them.

“It was powerful to watch that many people share a notion of integration, and sharing stories about being unexpectedly blessed while carrying out this exercise,” Bauman said.

LEARN MORE
Wrightsville United Methodist Church, which has Sunday services at 8:30, 9:45, and 11:15, consists of about 2000 members and is located on 4 Live Oak Drive in Wrightsville Beach. Phone: 910- 262-6409. Email: bob@wrightsvilleumc.com

One Brave Christian Experiment: Day 29, Prayer works!

A Silent Unity prayer form. Photo by Christine Moughamian.

Editor’s Note: Contributor Christine Moughamian is blogging each day of Lent about her progress becoming “one brave Christian.” Follow her experiment on Twitter @1bravechristian.

By Contributor Christine Moughamian

This morning, my cell phone showed 15 calls in 48 hours to Silent Unity at 1-800-NOW-PRAY.

Most of them were prayer requests for my mother’s health.

Would my 83-year old mother accept her memory loss and let my sister manage her medical care? Would she agree to the CT scan she needed?

My “brave Christian” scripture only brought some temporary relief:

“Let not your heart be troubled.” (John 14:1)

By the afternoon, I was a wreck again.

Finally, around 3:30 p.m., my mother called me. She was happy and excited to tell me about her day. My sister took her out to lunch; then shopping.

“I bought some perfume, two lipsticks and two pairs of shoes.”

I couldn’t wait to hear about the CT scan, but she only remembered the food and the goodies.

Finally, my sister came on the phone and gave me the news: “Yes, Mother went to the clinic for her CT scan.”

“Yes,” Mother said, “and the brain’s alright!”

“Now you have the proof,” I answered.

Tears of joy came to my eyes. I, too, had the proof I needed:

Prayer works!

A night with The Wilmington Prayer Furnace

Sara Clark

By Photographer Sara Clark

WilmingtonFAVS’ photographer Sara Clark recently spent a night capturing a Friday night worship session called Prophetic Explosion at The Wilmington Prayer Furnace at 101 N. Kerr Ave., which will celebrate its first anniversary in May.

Learn more about The Wilmington Prayer Furnace here.

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One Brave Christian Experiment – Day 4, Clarity

Editor’s Note: Contributor Christine Moughamian is blogging each day of Lent about her progress becoming “one brave Christian.” Follow her experiment on Twitter @1bravechristian.

By Contributor Christine Moughamian

“To do it or not to do it?”

That is the question all persons wanting to become brave Christians have to answer.

We all have our points of resistance, and for me, it’s definitely been Sam Teague’s 5:30–6 a.m. meditation requirement. In fact, when I interviewed author Stowe Dailey Shockey yesterday for a future post, that’s the first question I asked her. She’s written about trying the brave Christian experiment.

“How did the 5:30–6 a.m. commitment work for you and your group?”

She laughed then said: “Immediately, immediately, it was clear that it did NOT work for anybody.”

I sighed with relief.

She repeated, emphatically, “Immediately!”

For Stowe and her prayer group members, it conflicted with their families’ school schedules. For me, with yoga.

Stowe recognized that “an early ritual of meditation quiets the mind for the rest of the day.” She recommended to “do whatever you can.”

I considered it a blessing from her to proceed at my own pace.

After the interview, a second blessing came in the mail: the long-awaited Sam Teague’s practice booklet.

I read it today, Saturday.

It’s titled “The John Wesley Great Experiment!” after the church in

The John Wesley Great Experiment! booklet. Photo by Christine Moughamian

Tallahassee, Fla., where Teague began a series of lessons in 1965 for the Christian Home-Builders Class, known as “Building a Life that Matters.”

The cover features a calendar page for Sunday, Jan. 24, “that historic day” when Teague prayed this prayer:

“Dear God, show me the way to motivate these young people to build a life that matters.”

Teague recalls “Suddenly, I sat up and began to write. I wrote furiously, for the ideas came to me clearly and with certainty.” When he finished, he realized what had happened: “In twenty minutes, God had written through my hand the entire program of THE TEN BRAVE CHRISTIANS.”

I read Teague’s story with joyful anticipation. Clearly, it is the answer to my initial question “How can I serve?.” In his honor, I decided to begin working with his booklet tomorrow, Sunday.

I enjoy the clarity of his writing. Of course, I pay special attention to the early morning time requirement.

Teague is uncompromising about it.

“5. Do insist on the 5:30–6 a.m. (original italics retained) period for daily prayer and meditation. We found no other time of the day or night that produced the results as did this early morning hour.”

Hmm. I wonder whether the exact time is the factor of importance or rather, “putting God first” as he admonishes the participants to do in the experiment.

Tomorrow will tell.

Today, I offer myself to serve God in unexpected yet wondrous ways.

Do you know how you will serve God today?

Are some local pastors missing an opportunity because of their municipal prayer protest?

By Contributor Philip Stine

Should a Christian minister accept an invitation to give a nonsectarian prayer at a public meeting?

This week some ministers said no.

One is quoted in the StarNews as saying, “I am a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and feel I would be denying him if I didn’t pray in his name. What happened to freedom of speech and religion?” Another minister said, “If you ask me, as a Christian pastor, to come and pray, I could expect you to hear a prayer in my faith’s tradition.”

In many parts of the country, but perhaps especially in the South, it has been a tradition to open public meetings of civic bodies such as city councils and county commissions with clergy-led prayers. But recently in North Carolina, a district court ruled that the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment was violated by prayers that discussed specific tenets of Christianity and referenced Jesus Christ. Hence, the policy of nonsectarian prayers.

I think the ministers quoted above may be missing a good opportunity to answer part of their calling.

First, it is an occasion to set the work of the commission or council in a proper theological context. Surely it is the duty of all Christians to pray for those in positions of power and authority.

In Romans 13, for example, the Apostle Paul recognizes the temporal authority of governing bodies, within the context of God’s ultimate authority. Regardless of the political party or position of the elected officials, a minister praying at a public meeting has the responsibility of reminding them of the limits of their authority and the requirements that they provide just government.

Accepting the invitation to pray does not give approval to the civic body, nor is it an example of collusion. Rather, it gives the minister an opportunity to remind the civic body of its responsibilities to serve all with justice.

A second reason to accept the invitation is it provides an opportunity to give a word of hope. The minister can remind the authorities and the public that we are a people of hope, that God’s Spirit can work through them and all of us to build a just and peaceful society.

Third, a prayer could also acknowledge and foster a good partnership between civic and religious authorities. It is a sign of good will between church and government, proof the two can and must work together to provide social services and work for the betterment of the lives of the whole community. Both the public and the civic authorities need to hear that.

All this can be included without necessarily praying in the name of Jesus. Praying to God as Creator is no less “Christian” and certainly can be a witness to the work of God’s Spirit in this world.

Obama says faith mandates him to care for the poor

By LAUREN MARKOE
c. 2012 Religion News Service
Reprinted with permission

WASHINGTON (RNS) President Obama connected his faith with his policies toward the poor at the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday (Feb. 2), a subtle but sharp contrast to remarks made by presidential hopeful Mitt Romney the day before.

“Living by the principle that we are our brother’s keeper. Caring for the poor and those in need,” Obama said before an audience of about 3,000 at the Washington Hilton. These values, he said, “they’re the ones that have defined my own faith journey.”

Specifically, Obama said, they translate to policies that support research to fight disease and support foreign aid. His faith, he continued, inspires him “to give up some of the tax breaks that I enjoy.”

Romney has come under fire for telling CNN on Wednesday that “I’m not concerned about the very poor,” but is instead focused on the middle class. He later said his remarks were taken out of context, and promised to fix any holes in the safety net protecting the impoverished.

Romney, who made a fortune as the CEO of Bain Capital, is seeking to counter critics who portray him as a “vulture capitalist.” Recently he released his tax returns, which showed his income at nearly $21 million last year and that he paid a lower tax rate than most Americans.

The 60th annual prayer breakfast is a bipartisan event sponsored by members of Congress who meet weekly for prayer when Congress is in session.

Flanked by first lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, Obama talked about his largely secular upbringing, and “finding Christ when I wasn’t even looking for him so many years ago.”

Obama did not mention recent tensions between the White House and Catholic and evangelical leaders over new rules that will mandate nearly all religious institutions to offer coverage for contraception to their employees.

Late Wednesday, Cecilia Munoz, the director of the White House Domestic Policy Council and a former staffer for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, sought to clarify what she called “confusion” over the contraception mandate.

“The Obama administration is committed to both respecting religious beliefs and increasing access to important preventive services,” she wrote in a White House blog post. “And as we move forward, our strong partnerships with religious organizations will continue.”

Obama shared the dais with Christian author and humorist Eric Metaxas, who asked the audience to forsake “phony” religiosity and to recognize the humanity in their political foes.

“If you can see Jesus in your enemy, then you know you are seeing through God’s eyes and not your own,” Metaxas said.

No more prayer in Jesus’ name? One pastor speaks about removing his name from commissioners’ invocation list

By AMANDA GREENE
Religion News Wilmington

It wasn’t offensive. It was just odd.

That’s how the Rev. Steve Hein of St. Andrews-Covenant Presbyterian Church characterized the recent clarification of a law that prohibits sectarian prayer in public meetings in North Carolina.

Attached to Hein’s annual invitation to pray at the beginning of New Hanover County Commissioners meetings was a note.

“It said I could do a generalized prayer but could not use Jesus or Christ in it,” he said in a phone interview. “My response was that my prayers are done in the name of Jesus so it seemed fruitless to say them in any other way.”

The law states that prayer at public meetings cannot favor one specific deity that is identified with a particular sect or religion. Read more about the law here.

So Hein removed his name from the invocation list. Another five pastors around the city have also removed their names in protest, said County Commissioner Jonathan Barfield last week.

Prayer to start public meetings is a widespread practice throughout North Carolina at boards of education, county commissioners and city council meetings. Sometimes local clergy are invited to give the prayer, and other times board members give the prayer.

Hein said he understood the idea of the separation of church and state.

“No, we’re not supposed to have a state religion. I get that. But I don’t see how one prayer at one meeting establishes a state religion,”  he said.

Hein is worried that the law could hamper a pastor or spiritual leader’s freedom of religion.

“It seems like there’s a specific prohibition against praying to Jesus Christ,” he said. “If a person wants to talk about their faith in a public place, that shouldn’t be offensive. It’s just very odd. If it’s who they are, they should be allowed to express who they are.”

Some pastors remove their names from local government meeting invocation list in protest

By AMANDA GREENE
Religion News Wilmington

A half-dozen local pastors have removed their names from the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners’ invocation list since Monday’s meeting, according to one county official.

New Hanover County Commissioners Vice Chairman Jonathan Barfield

Commissioners Vice Chairman Jonathan Barfield said he’d gotten several emails from pastors who protested the commissioner’s decision not to allow sectarian prayer, or praying to a specific deity, to open its meetings.

“The idea was that Jewish rabbis wouldn’t be praying to Jesus Christ. And a Muslim imam wouldn’t be praying in the name of Jesus Christ. So we should just say Amen and not ‘in Jesus’ name,'” Barfield said. “If that is the law, that is the law. We have to follow the law.”

He said the pastor who was supposed to be there to give the invocation on Monday didn’t show up so Barfield, who is an ordained pastor, had to give the prayer.

The Commissioners’ action followed a U.S. Supreme Court decision last week not to hear an appeal from the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners’ in Winston-Salem, N.C. Lower courts previously ruled that Forsyth County’s Board of Commissioners had endorsed Christianity at their meetings by allowing prayers with too many references to a specific deity, Jesus Christ.

Barfield and several area pastors weren’t the only ones upset by the decision. The Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation sent a “Prayer and Action Alert” email to its constituents linking to a WECT news story about the nonsectarian prayer requirement.

“There are three options to petition this ruling – including going to the Supreme Court. Urge the Commissioner of New Hanover County to fight for your religious liberty,” the email stated. “You can call and ask the fourth district court of appeals for details here. It’s up to us to do something.”

In the wake of the Supreme Court decision, the North Carolina American Civil Liberties Union said it will be sending letters warning counties across the state to cease their sectarian invocations.

But the state’s ACLU legal director said her office wasn’t planning on sending any such letters to New Hanover, Pender or Brunswick counties.

“We haven’t received any complaints from those areas,” said N.C. ACLU legal director Katie Parker. “We were contacted by the New Hanover County attorney just for clarification, just to make sure they’re doing what they need to do.”

But, to Barfield, the new law links to the loosening of religious ties leading to the end of days in the Bible.

“In my opinion, we’re getting further and further away from the Lord,” he said. “It’s like the passage in Romans, every tongue shall confess and every knee shall bow and confess he is Lord. To me, it’s all biblical.”

Praying for New Orleans, one block at a time

Millie Campbell gets behind the wheel of her car and along with friend Betty Minor to drives the streets of New Orleans and pray for an end to crime. For use with RNS-NOLA-PRAY, transmitted Jan. 26, 2012. RNS photo by Eliot Kamienitz/The Times-Picayune.

By BRUCE NOLAN
c. 2012 Religion News Service
Reprinted with permission

NEW ORLEANS (RNS) Millie Campbell slipped the transmission into reverse and backed her blue Chevrolet away from her spotless brick home. “Oh God,” she said, “we thank you for the blood of Jesus.”

Then the 76-year-old cranked the wheel straight, put the car into drive, and headed slowly up Frenchmen Street, one hand on the wheel, the other turned upward toward the heavens.

“Touch this block in the name of Jesus,” she continued.

Betty Minor prays for an end to street crime in New Orleans as her friend Millie Campbell takes the wheel. For use with RNS-NOLA-PRAY, transmitted Jan. 26, 2012. RNS photo by Eliot Kamenitz/The Times-Picayune.

Her front-seat companion, Betty Minor, 69, filled in the gaps between Campbell’s appeals. “Hallelujah … Glory, glory.”

A couple of times a week, on no particular schedule, Campbell, Minor and a half-dozen others drive slowly around assigned neighborhoods, doing just this.

Campbell covers the 7th Ward. Minor covers the 9th Ward and eastern New Orleans.

And they pray. They pray for an end to the scourge of murders sapping the city — 199 last year, and 17 or so on the streets Campbell drove last week.

Sometimes, driver and passenger join hands, bouncing slowly over the pothole-filled streets of their neighborhood.

“Cover your children, Father God,” Minor says. “In the name of Jesus.”

The car turns onto A.P Tureaud Boulevard. “Hope is not in the dollar,” Campbell says. “Hope is in you, Christ Jesus.”

The pair drive past stoop sitters, past Tony’s Historical Parakeet Restaurant and Bar, past the blighted houses and freshly rebuilt homes in neighborhoods undergoing checkerboard recoveries.

“Touch Touro Street, Lord, in the name of Jesus.”

Campbell and Minor’s group consists of six women and one man. They are from different churches, bound together by an ad hoc prayer group that meets twice a month at Campbell’s house. This is strictly their project.

They are among thousands of people off the radar, unorganized, unsponsored, praying daily for the safety of New Orleans.

Usually the people in Campbell’s group go solo. Sometimes it’s a special trip. But sometimes they pray while doing something else, like going out for groceries. The trips can be long or short. Each person prays however he or she is moved to. Campbell and her friends have been doing this for about six weeks.

Across the city, thousands of Catholics formally pray for peace in the city at each Sunday Mass, reciting a special anti-crime petition at the request of Archbishop Gregory Aymond.

Other clergy lead congregations in other ways, and run youth ministries, literacy programs, sports programs, anything to help tamp down crime.

But Campbell and her friends have decided the most powerful thing they can do is drive the city’s streets and pray, as the community does its business, unaware, around them.

“We got a problem, but we don’t know how to solve it,” Campbell insists.

“Well, we do,” she says, meaning herself, Minor and their friends. “We’re taking it to the Spirit.”

(Bruce Nolan writes for The Times-Picayune in New Orleans.)