Christians Engaged Goes to Washington: A Day of Prayer and Intercession … With a Nod Toward Jefferson

By Al Perrotta Published on July 17, 2023

The Stream is honored to be tagging along with Christians Engaged on its three-day exploration of and intercession for the nation’s capital, and I have highlights to share for you. As the motto for Christians Engaged is “Pray, Vote, Engage,” our first full — very full — day of activity was dedicated to prayer. And not the “Oh, Lord, please tell me the bus is within 100 yards, my feet hurt” variety.

Prayer and Intercession

When it comes to praying, voting and engaging, “Prayer” — Christians Engaged founder Bunni Pounds insisted — is number one. Indeed, we must reach our hands up before pulling the voting lever down. Bunni implored us to join with Jesus to intercede with the nation. It was a challenge that hit home. “Are we dialoging with God about the nation?” 

Why wouldn’t we? Ben Quine pointed out that with each topic, with each issue, we can ask, “What does God’s word say about it?” In love, meditate on it and teach on it. Live a Biblical world view, and enact policies based on a Biblical world view. It is, he said,  “one of the most loving things you can do.”

Especially with the urgency of the hour. Bunni shared a word from the Lord: “Prepare the body of Christ for the upcoming trial and tribulation.” The American church is not prepared. 

But victory over this pending trial and tribulation is in our grasp. If we will grasp hands in prayer. That was the message delivered during the afternoon session by Dave Kubal of Intercessors for America. Kubal shared the amazing story of an East German church that helped bring down the Berlin Wall. Starting in 1982, when the Cold War was at its chilliest, this church began holding a Monday night “Prayer for Peace.” Those prayer meetings continued for years, despite heavy persecution from the German Stasi.  In the wake of Ronald Reagan’s famous speech at the Brandenburg Gate — you know the one, “Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down This Wall” — the church hit on another idea. They would leave the confines of the sanctuary and hold a silent candlelight march. 

Prayer Took Down the Wall

When the time came for the peace walk, GDR forces were ready. Countless armed troops lined the streets. Tanks lay in wait, with machine guns pointed towards the doors. The parishioners understood that coming out those doors might mean death. They came out … only to find 100,000 of their fellow East German citizens holding candles, waiting to join their march. The candlelight procession moved down the street into the face of the tanks. The prayer warriors came up to the soldiers, offered them their own candles. One by one, the soldiers put down their arms, and picked up the tiny torches of freedom. Then — en masse! — the tanks returned to their base. A week later, the East German dictator resigned. A month later the Berlin Wall fell.

An East German official later confessed, “We were ready for anything, except candles and prayer.”

“Prayer,” said Dave Kubal, “broke the back of communism.” 

Is our nation in peril again? Perhaps to even a greater degree from threats within and without?

Few on our trip would argue. Let the example of that East German church be a lesson to the American church, as it awakens from its slumber. 

For some, the lesson has already been put into practice. For that, we took our show on the road. 

David’s Tent

Four blocks from the U.S. Capitol where our representatives fill the two chambers with speeches, the air echoes with passionate prayers for our nation. And unlike with Congress, there is no adjournment. Ever. This is David’s Tent, where prayer and worship and intercession have continued 24/7 for eight years on or near the National Mall. Eight full years singing a “love song for Jesus” and crying out for our country. 

During our Sunday visit, a full band with five singers manned the platform, sending worship out onto Pennsylvania Avenue. Speakers both with David’s Tent and off the street including our own Bunni Pounds took the ground level mic to offer prayers for the nation. Storm clouds darkened the skies behind the Capitol, but sunshine lit up the famous dome as the worship continued. You could almost imagine the music and praise pushing the clouds away from home of our legislative branch. 

Museum of the Bible

I never expected a museum to wow me more than the National Air & Space Museum has routinely done. However, a museum dedicated to the One who created air and space and everything else has: The Museum of the Bible. We were given four hours to cruise the museum. Sounded like a long time to me. Friends, I barely touched the surface. And I’ve barely recovered.

The Old Testament part of Story of the Bible floor was particularly stunning. Rather than mere exhibits, the presentation is impressionistic, a sensory experience. You don’t hear about God’s rainbow promise after the Flood. You enter a room bathed in beautiful, extremely soothing, washes of slowly swirling rainbow colors. They don’t talk about the Parting of the Waters in Exodus. You turn a corner and enter a narrow room lit in tall blue wire providing the sensation of high waves on both sides and a dry path through.

Since the presentation engages your “knower” not your “thinker” the impact is much more profound.

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I keep encountering new delights throughout the museum. The village of Nazareth brought Jesus’ hometown alive, with a pair of “local” residents on hand to help explain their 1st century life. If only the olive press was really creating olive oil. But I quibble. The special exhibit “Scripture and Science” was eye-opening, and necessary. How many people in your life have no idea the role people of faith played in the advancement of science?

And how much science, when truly understood, moves one toward faith. I was drawn in particular to a quote from one of the 20th Century’s greatest physicists, Freeman Dyson. 

“The more I examine the universe and the details of its architecture, the more evidence I find that the universe in some sense must have known we were coming.” 

Twilight Monument and Memorial Tour

The universe made a cameo in the first stop on our evening tour of monuments and memorials. “The arch of the moral universe bends towards justice.” Just one of the quotes featured at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. Rev. King’s memorial is placed a stone’s throw from where he gave his prophetic “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Yet King’s gaze isn’t directed toward Lincoln, or even out across the National Mall as he did that hot August day 60 summers ago. It is directed toward the Jefferson Memorial, our guide informed us, because during his speech, King looked toward that monument, toward Jefferson, declaring, “we’ve come to cash that check,” Namely, the promissory note Jefferson made to African-Americans when he declared “all men are created equal.”  

You’d expect to find references to God in quotes at a memorial for Reverend Martin Luther King, but it’s a little surprising to see references to God at the Jefferson Memorial, given how much ink is spent downplaying this Founder’s faith. Yet three of the four panels etched with his writings include heavy emphasis on God. 

That is not even counting the words circling the inside of the memorial’s dome: “For I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”

As sleep descends after a long day devoted to the power of prayer and intercession, I drift away from the political forms of tyranny, which seem to dominate our conversations these days, to spiritual tyranny. That which keeps us from having a mind of Christ, from meditating on His Word, from interceding on behalf of others and our nation.

Lord, let me have eternal hostility toward that form of tyranny too. 

 

Note: Plans are already underway for the Christians Engaged 2024 trip to DC. It promises to be even bigger and better. (We’re the “guinea pigs,” Bunni says.) Click this link to go to the pre-registration page.

And if you want to learn more about Christians Engaged, check them out at ChristiansEngaged.org. And, of course, you can watch Bunni’s podcast “Conversations With Christians Engaged” right here on The Stream

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