Praying Through Hellish Times

By: Antipas Harris
Thursday, May 6th, 2010

A few years ago, I served as coordinator the National Day of Prayer for the Greater New Haven, CT area. What an awesome experience praying with hundreds of people from the community at the Beaver Pond Park and Bowen Field!

There had been several casualties at the urban park. The most recent at the time was a double murder in the wee-hours of the morning during what seemed to have been a drug deal that went bad.

The National Day of prayer that year was an excellent time to pull the urban churches together with the citizens of the community for a time of prayer for healing and change. That day, there was a man who heard us praying and praising God from a far. He testifies to having been on the precipice of suicide. But the sounds of prayer and praise became a compass for him. He followed the sounds to the park where he received prayer. Patrick Gray, a Ph.D. candidate from Yale University who accompanied us in the National Day of Prayer event, took the time to talk with the raggedly dressed, homeless man to find out his situation. Patrick introduced me to the man and sponsored the man to a rehabilitation center in New York. I accompanied Patrick to New York to visit the man and watched his life turn from a suicidal state to the hope that only God affords in prayer.

Prayer changes things!

Recently, I heard and noticed several rumors on online sources that President Barack Obama was going to cancel the White House’ recognition of the National Day of Prayer due to complaints about it. I was devastated!

I thought, “We are living in some of the most perilous times ever. How could this be?” I could not accept that the gossip was true. So, I hastened to the official White House website to see if there were any authentic information there.

I was so relieved to see the Presidential Proclamation that affirms that Thursday, May 6th, 2010 is the National Day of Prayer for 2010.

See this quote from his proclamation:

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 6, 2010, as a National Day of Prayer.  I call upon the citizens of our Nation to pray, or otherwise give thanks…and I invite all people of faith to join me in asking for God’s continued guidance, grace, and protection as we meet the challenges before us.

The National Day of Prayer remains official– Hallelujah and AMEN!

While I am pleased that the National Day of Prayer remains official in our country, everyday should be a National Life of Prayer. We remain in dire need for God. Sometimes, I wonder if the eschatalogical hell is worse than this, it must be something terrible– and I am sure it is.

Yet, we remain involved in two wars, the economic crisis is plaguing our country and the world, tornadoes and floods are destroying homes, cars, properties, lives and more. Earthquakes continue to shake the earth and poverty is at an all time high; abuse, violence and decadence seem to be the order of the day. How much more can this world take?

Just last Saturday night, a terrorist from Bridgeport, CT drove a SUV to Time Square in NY and left it there full of time-bombs! This brings terror closer to home for me. I learned that the guy responsible for this failed attempt lived only two blocks from one of our church members from a church I once served in Connecticut.

When I sit and think about all of the national crisis and the local tragedies, I feel overwhelmed! The Psalmist exclaims, “From the end of the earth will I call unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: Lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Psalm 61:2 ASV).

I feel like that Psalmist in our world’s beleaguered state. Yet, the fact is that I am not feeling overwhelmed and paranoid alone. In this nation, and world,  in many ways, many of us feel besieged and often fearful in what I call a “fiendish maze” or a simply “hellish times.”

I submit that one annual National Day of Prayer is just not enough!

I implore all of my fellow citizens of this nation to submit before God in this particular National Day of Prayer with sincerity and fervency. Even more so, I propose that as a nation, we consider a “A National Life of Prayer!” Even so, I suggest that as a world in need of divine intervention, we turn back to the creator of all things in repentance and prayer. I don’t know about you, but I am turning to God in times like these.

What a great opportunity to acknowledge our limitations and recognize that our extremity is God’s opportunity!

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Antipas Harris
This entry was posted by on Thursday, May 6th, 2010 at 2:00 am and is filed under Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Urban Renewal, Worldview. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

7 Responses to “Praying Through Hellish Times”

  1. Joe McDaniel says:

    Here’s my question:

    Out of 535 members of Congress, many of whom believe this nation was founded upon prayer and Christian principles, why has only “31″ supported the President on the National Day of Prayer? This is 5% of Congress.

    [The American Center for Law and Justice, which filed a friend of the court brief supporting the government on behalf of 31 members of Congress, called Crabb's ruling flawed and promised to back an appeal if one is filed.] From the following website : http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2010/04/15/national/a124530D12.DTL

    “It is unfortunate that this court failed to understand that a day set aside for prayer for the country represents a time-honored tradition that embraces the First Amendment, not violates it,” ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow said in a statement.
    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2010/04/15/national/a124530D12.DTL#ixzz0n9Iy9Cf0

    Are our political leaders, afraid to stand with the government’s proclamation of the National Day of Prayer ?? Is it the election ? constituents ? Congress loves to talk about issues and agendas of the government, but where are they today on the issues of faith, prayer, and God’s intervention with the affairs of America !

    Bush and Reagan took huge faith-based stands for this country – not only national prayer. It appears that Obama will too support faith and prayer with the coming days. Standing for prayer and faith goes to the core of every man and woman’s personal agenda. It also points to aspects of the heart – our inclination to help the poor, our inclination to fight all injustice, our inclination to prayer, for even our enemies. Not only does Congress wrestle with these issues of the heart, but we do too?

    The National Day of Prayer is deeply rooted in the fabric of America’s culture. That fabric is only protected by the hearts of those who understand the power of prayer. I stand with Dr. Harris, the President and the 31 members of Congress in support of the National Day of Prayer – a Day threatened and almost forgotten. People of Faith this is worth making a big dea overl.

    May we pray for our country, our president, our world, and ourselves.

    Humbly Submitted,

    Joe McDaniel

  2. Diane Chandler Diane Chandler says:

    Antipas, I affirm your call to prayer as a lifestyle, not just one day a year to pray for our nation. As Joe McDaniel alludes, supporting prayer initiatives has unfortunately brought with it political overtones. How tragic! There was a day in this country where prayer united us, as we sought the face of Almighty God for His mercy and grace upon us. Now with National Days of Prayer threatened by accusations of unconstitutionality, we need to do more than pray. We do need to take a stand.

    Like the prophet Ezekiel conveyed, the Lord is seeking for one “who would build up the wall and stand before me [the Lord] on behalf of the land….” Will we be counted as those who build up the wal and stand before the Lord on behalf of our land?

    • Antipas Harris Dr. A says:

      Amen Dr. Chandler! Thank you for inspiring me to write a blog on the NDP. I stand with you in prayer and do admire your focus on the need for spiritual formation.

  3. Yolanda J. says:

    I usually pray for wisdom, guidance and protection. However, I seldom ever intercede for our nation. I guess I really should spend more time praying for our nation and our decisions. This blog was a real eye opener for me. With things that appear so ugly, it can really be a struggle to pray for a nation who seems to thrive on wickedness. But, Jonah and several other biblical figures had the same issue, yet their mission was the same; to go to the wicked and spread the good news. It seems as if every time they obeyed, the people repented.

    I can relate to the young man in your story. Years ago, I went through some things in the military, and as a result I almost took my own life. No one knew b/c I appeared happy and I practically lived at bible study or in church. Nevertheless, an encounter with someone whom I was close with turned out to be a very destructive for me. In the end, I was extremely broken and I couldn’t repress what had transpired. It was around Christmas time and I had been separated from loved ones for an exceptional amount of time, so I didn’t really feel that I had anyone to talk to. As I was looking at the ocean, contemplating suicide, miraculously the Lord sent a “ram in the bush.” I had befriended someone, whom I later found out was a known Satanist. We got to talking and not only was I able to get over my feelings of depression and being overwhelmed, she gave her heart to the Lord and became a Christian. Now, if I hadn’t had that spiritual foundation, who knows how that would’ve ended! I firmly believe that the Lord saw my intent, but he also heard my mother’s prayers as I was away. She told me that something was in her spirit that particular night and she began to intercede for me. I’m glad she did! I’m also glad that the Lord in his infinite wisdom put me at the right place, just at the right time! It’s like that song: “I’m So Glad, Jesus Lifted Me!”

    Perhaps, if we intercede more often on our nation’s behalf, on a regular basis, we can change the lives and the futures of many as well!

  4. Helen J Zackery says:

    I had a grand time today at the National Day of Prayer at Christ Chapel New Testament Church in New Haven CT. I also agree as Dr. Antipas Harris stated that or lives should be a lifestyle of pray. We also like him should check out whether a rumor is true or not and before blaming someone for something we should make sure we are correct. Even though it was reported that our President had canceled the NDP, we know now that that is not true. If we were to focus our attention on the one who is the way the truth and the life we would stay out of trouble because trouble can’t find that which is truth and God thru Jesus is truth so let us never stop pressing toward toward the mark for the price of the high calling of God thru our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Rev Dr. Antipas Harris keep up the good work and always share the truth not untruths!!!