More than 150 people paused for an hour during their midday lunch in united prayer for the future of the United States of America. The prayers were given in English, German, Hebrew and Spanish.
Billy Wilson, executive director of the International Center for Spiritual Renewal, reminded the small crowd there were gatherings in 900 counties at the same time and 2,600 prayer gatherings throughout the week.
“Over 2 ½ million people will be praying with you for a new Christ awakening in America,” he told the crowd. “In Cook County (Chicago), they have a prayer gathering in every precinct around that county, and in Los Angeles County where there are a number of courthouses, they have gatherings at all of the courthouses and they are connected by phone.”
He said Christians were praying on the steps of capitol buildings in Massachusetts, Ohio and Texas.
“On one occasion, they are inside the state building having a prayer gathering on 9/11,” he said.
Wilson is the executive director of the Awakening America Alliance, the national organization behind the annual event.
“We believe God is giving a new spiritual wakeup call to America and we need a wakeup call in our nation,” he said. “America has been in a spiritual decline and I want that to change, don’t you?”
He invited everyone to join hands in the public square and boldly pray out loud to humbly ask God for spiritual renewal, revival and awakening.
“We believe the answer for America is not in the White House, it’s not in the congressional house, it’s not even in the courthouse — the answer for America is in the church house, in my house and in your house.”
Wilson introduced Samuel Rodriguez, the current president of the National Hispanic Leadership Conference, which represents 36,000 Hispanic congregations. He prayed in Spanish and then in English, praising God in the midst of what he called a “spiritual apathy” gripping the nation.
“God, we give you praise in the midst of spiritual apathy, moral relativism, cultural decadence and ecclesiastical lukewarmness. We give you praise because the church of Jesus Christ is still alive and well,” he said. “We understand salvation of our nation lies not in the agenda of the donkey or the elephant, but only in the agenda of the lamb.”
He said America is not done with God and God is not done with America.
The annual Cry Out America prayer for spiritual awakening began five years ago with a network of leaders from a broad coalition of evangelical, Pentecostal and Charismatic ministries. With strong conviction that America was in a devastating spiritual decline, the annual event was organized. Sept. 11, a date that in many ways is infamous in American history, a day almost all Americans remember, was chosen for the annual event.
Bradley County co-chair Jamie Work, senior pastor of Candies Creek Baptist Church, said during opening remarks the crowd was united across ethnic, economic, denominational and economic differences.
“We have united together to present ourselves before the Lord God, make of heaven and earth, in a united demonstration of humble, broken, God-seeking, Christ-exalting repentance and prayer,” he said. “As our country teeters on the edge of economic, social and moral collapse, we have come together today to pray.”
Work said the purpose of the prayer service was not for celebrating, “but to give solemn and honest reflection on the deep spiritual needs of our nation.”
Sept. 11 commemorates the tragic loss of 2,977 lives at the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and a farm field in Shanksville, Pa.
“Our gathering today demonstrates that we are choosing to turn to God,” he said.
Participating in the Cry Out America program were Voices of Lee, Steve, Sara and Molly Morgan, Max and Christopher Morris, Jon and Eloise Stone, Phil Taylor, Demaris and Leanna Feliz, Rabbi Michael Weiner, Robert and Sierra Green, Kay Horner, Emmaline Elliot, Todd and Emily Bagley, Michael Obi, Cody Manning, Larry and LaVonna Cockerham, Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland and Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis.