I don’t get worked up over events. So, when Pastor Gregory Sanders first approached me about his idea for the Prayer Takeover my response was less than enthusiastic. However, I trust Gregory and believe that God has placed him where he is “for such a time as this.” It was important for me that the focus was praying for the city not against it. It was important to me as well, that people observing us praying for the city around city hall, knew we were praying for the city and that we love them and the city. In light of this Gregory emailed every council member, the mayor, the police chief and his deputies to let them know what the prayer foci would be and that we were for them.
I was also skeptical about men being the focus, but when I heard Gregory’s heart that this would be a time not to exclude women, but an opportunity for men to show, with solidarity, they are committed to the Shalom of the city and to help lead in seeking God’s best for it, I could get with that.
What I saw was a gathering of humble men asking God to bless the city and put an end to the things that grieve his heart- poverty and homelessness, exploitation, slavery and violence. We prayed for wisdom and strength for our leaders and for peace for the city. We prayed for God to use us to bless Long Beach, that Long Beach would be a beacon of light to the region, nation and world.
I realized (again) yesterday that sometimes hesitation is part of faith, that sometimes we get on board with something before it’s perfect, knowing that it’s often those moments when God does something truly significant. We put aside our own agendas and ideals, and the way we would do it and just jump in and love and support one another.
Another thing I saw was not the beginning of a movement, but a bucket of water splashed over the face to refresh a movement of sincere, humble collaboration amongst God’s people in Long Beach. We still must honor and bless those who have paved the way for us and be open to the new things God has in store. We must honor the big things and “not despise the day of small things.” We cannot be so arrogant to think that something starts with us or begins right now just because that’s when we see it or notice it. At the same time we must build monuments in our hearts to the Lord when significant things happen while we tell the stories of His goodness in the past. We must understand that God has had his eye on this city, his heart in it and his hand for it for a long, long time- before we even thought to pray or do anything.
May this event be that splash of water to refresh the movement of God and his people to continue to seek the Shalom of Long Beach, that His Kingdom come, His will be done, in Long Beach as it is in Heaven. Keep going brothers and sisters!