Cry Out America national coordinator and interim executive director of International Center for Spiritual Renewal, the Rev. Kay Horner, gave a brief history of the prayer movement during a recent meeting of local coordinators, but cautioned against living on past successes.
“We remember 9/11. We remember the great awakenings of the past, but God has not called us to maintain a memory. He called us to move forward into what he has for the kingdom of God in this day,” she said.
Most pastors and spouses have a period immediately after the Christmas holiday, after the dinners are finished, after the church programs are over and after the clock runs down on the final college football bowl game.
“You just want to set back just a little and let out a big sigh,” she said.
That is how former International Center for Spiritual Renewal Executive Director Billy Wilson felt in early 2007. As he boarded a plane to a city where he was to speak, he was still trying to get his head clear and focus on his idea.
“He was a little sleepy-headed, but began going over his notes and make sure he was ready for the upcoming engagement,” Horner said.
As Wilson gathered his thoughts, a young man sat down in the next seat. Horner said Wilson recognized almost immediately, there was something wrong.
“It was at a time when he just wanted a little alone time, but invariably, God gives you a divine appointment and wants you to witness,” Horner said
As it turned out, the young man was the son of a mainline denominational pastor.
“And as he began to talk, he began to reveal the fact that he was moving because of situations and issues he’d been involved in his community and essentially, he was saying he really didn’t know how to become a Christian,” she said.
The young man did not know what salvation meant or how it was attained. Maybe he knew those things as a child and surely he’d heard about salvation at church, but at that moment in time, the old child, the young man, felt completely lost.
Wilson listened. They talked. But it wasn’t until the flight ended and they were about to disembark that Wilson realized he had nearly slept through the opportunity to witness the Word of God to the young man.
“Wilson thought, wow, I had just almost slept through this critical moment. The Lord shook him and said this is the condition of the church in America. They need a wake-up call. They have fallen asleep and there’s a generation of young people who are hungry for spiritual things. They are hungry for a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and they don’t where to go and get it,” Horner said.
Following the trip, the incident on the plane began tugging at Wilson. He prayed. He fasted. He sought the Lord. The Lord brought to his mind that on Sept. 11, 2001, the nation felt that wake-up call that crossed his mind on the plane. For a short time after the two hijacked planes flew into the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and a third jetliner crashed in Pennsylvania, there was a national awakening. Churches’ pews filled. Bibles’ sales skyrocketed. CD sales mushroomed.
“And then we settled back down into our slumber,” she said.
Cry Out America was birthed in Wilson’s heart and affirmed by ICFSR board members in April 2007. The first Cry Out America occurred in 2008, but prior to that, a summit was held where religious leaders asked how would a great awakening look? How can it be determined if the prayers are making a difference? Those Christian leaders who laid down denominational barriers and walls developed 20 awakening indicators.
“This will be the sixth year. Last year, in 2012, with churches and ministries, we had 2,600 prayer points we are pretty certain of, but it’s a grassroots movement. There were people all over the nation involved. There were approximately 260,000 people crying out an extraordinary united prayer with the main focus of asking God for a Christ awakening in America,” Horner said.
Bradley countians have gathered on the courthouse steps since the beginning.
“I’m beginning to see evidence (of prayer). You don’t hear it on the news or the mainline media so much, but you begin to see it when you hear of college campuses that are having this kind of prayer,” she said.
“We believe that if there is downstream pollution it’s because there are upstream problems,” Horner said.
Cry Out America is one hour on one day of unified, interdenominational corporate prayer on the Bradley County Courthouse Plaza from 11:50 a.m. to 1 p.m. The service will include worship-based interactive prayer focusing on the seven mountains of culture: arts and entertainment, business, education, family, government, media and religion.
Prayer warriors begin petitioning God 24 hours a day for seven days. From Sept. 4 through Sept. 10, people will pray over one of the mountains of culture in one-hour shifts in the North Cleveland Church of God Prayer Tower.
From Sept. 12 through Oct. 3, there will be 21 days of community service “ekballo” based on Matt. 9:38. “Ekballo” is the word, in Greek, Jesus used when he commanded his disciples to pray to the Lord of the harvest to “send out” workers into the harvest fields.