7 Diverse Christian Leaders Share Their Prayers for 2019
From White House faith advisors to pastors in the heartland, these leaders are seeking God on behalf of the nation as they start the new year in prayer.
After the buzz of late-night parties, many Americans take time to look ahead at the new year. Resolutions for new diet and exercise regimens are popular. Yet people of faith also look higher to process goals, hopes, and dreams for the year set to unfold.
This is especially true of faith leaders. The Stream spoke to several, across diverse ethnicities, generations, faith traditions, and worship styles. Yet each hold to the Holy Bible as a common sacred text.
They shared with us their prayers to God for the new year. Responses have been lightly edited for clarity.
1. Bishop Harry Jackson, Pastor, Hope Christian Church – Washington, DC area
Our nation is at a major crossroads. Alexis de Tocqueville had it right when he said, “America is great because she is good.” Her goodness was based on high Christian ideals, which she often has failed to live up to totally. I am praying for a Third Great Awakening in the U.S. beginning in 2019.
My prayer for the nation has five parts. First, may the Lord send His church to continue to correct and heal the corruption and injustice in our criminal justice system. This prayer is based on Isaiah 59:14. The Body of Christ can be a force for salvation, moral reform, social transformation, and racial healing, according to Psalm 133:1-3. Region by region, I have faith for the Lord to cause His church to rise up in unity.
Third, I pray God brings His peace to Jerusalem and religious freedom to the Middle East.Psalm 122:6-9, which begins “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem,” is very clear. May the Lord also bring revitalization and jobs to urban centers (Isaiah 35:1-4). Finally, we pray God would heal our nation’s families. Psalm 68:6-7 says, “You find families for those who are lonely. You set prisoners free and let them prosper.”
2. Laura Aguillard, Co-Pastor, LifeHouse Church – Reserve, LA
One thing really burning on my heart is seeking unity in the church. After 22 years serving a local congregation with my husband, we’ve rarely seen what Jesus longs for in John 17: “that they would be one.” My dream is that the church would reflect every culture, every nation, and every diverse anointing God has given people.
I believe when we cast aside division as the church, then all injustices will end — whether prejudice or lives lost to abortion. Everyone will function in their calling, which has significance in the unseen realm. Then we’re not fighting against each other but for one cause.
3. Jack Ortego, Regional Director, Man in the Mirror – St. Louis, MO
There is a hunger for connecting. People today are disconnected and disjointed. God may be forcing us to see the importance and value of relationships. Folks who don’t know the Lord are really shaken by a society in crisis. God allows us as believers to be a shoulder for them to lean on.
In Malachi 4:5-6, we see the hearts of fathers turning back to the children and children to fathers. Some older men today are seeing young people who’ve been abandoned and fatherless. Our hearts are torn. You can’t let them wander off into the darkness. God has created a dynamic to bring us together.
In 2019, I pray people look to the Body of Christ as an anchor point. It’s not a self-aggrandizement thing. Many don’t know they’re strong, but others see the strength of God in you.
4. Dr. Jacqueline Rivers, Executive Director, Seymour Institute – Boston, MA
From the Old to New Testaments, there is a striking theme of God’s compassion towards the poor and least among us. Matthew 25:40 says, “As you did to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me” — to Jesus. A prayer request I have for 2019 is for progress on these problems of violence in our cities and mass incarceration.
The First Step Act began some reforms at the federal level. But most prisoners are held in state prisons, so I pray that first step bears more fruit. Young black men across the country are so impacted. With the women and children they leave behind, it’s deeply troubling. Men with less education are most at risk today. How do we bring them into the church? Many congregations have a track record serving the vulnerable.
Solid research shows churches that preach on marriage and sexuality foster more marriages and fewer out-of-wedlock children. That’s important for the well-being of children, families, and society. In a compassionate way, churches can teach why marriage matters.
5. Malachi O’Brien, Co-Pastor, The Church at Pleasant Ridge – Harrisonville, MO
People are tired of the normal, and something is aching within: There’s got to be more than this. I hear more leaders talking openly about the Holy Spirit.
This new season is going to be more about identity than activity. A lot of leaders are hopelessly addicted activists. God wants us to discover wholehearted devotion, this lingering before the presence of the Father. As the veil is pulled back, our own lukewarm apathy will be exposed.
God is going to break in with real, passionate, fiery Christianity. Psalm 24:6 speaks of a generation who seek the face of the God of Jacob — our generation, the revival generation. It’s not about titles or organizations. We’re a family doing it together.
6. Pam Olsen, Co-Director, Hilltop House of Prayer – Tallahassee, FL
Florida experienced great loss this past year. Here in our state’s capital city, my prayer is that God heals hearts and awakens people to His love. We are praying that the Holy Spirit moves in schools and universities, and multitudes of students say yes to Jesus.
Let’s have faith this year for the church to truly seek the Lord in passionate prayer. A key verse we’re declaring is Isaiah 44:3. It states, “For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground. I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring.”
I am standing in the gap for our President, our new Congress, Supreme Court Justices, and for new state government leaders to have wisdom and lead rightly. May 2019 be the year we see the life of the unborn protected, as part of an awakening and reformation in America.
7. Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, Pastor, New Season Christian Worship Center – Sacramento, CA
I pray that, in 2019, Christ followers will preach truth with love, and worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). The gospel calls us to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly before God — which changes the world!
May we quench the thirsty (John 4:13-14), feed the hungry and welcome the stranger (Matthew 25:35). Indeed, we bring good news to the poor, free the captive, heal the broken, and declare the year of the Lord’s favor (Luke 4:18-19). Then our churches, cities, and nations begin to reflect increasingly more of the character of Christ.
By the way, I also predict that in 2019, the children of the Cross will not do the following: sacrifice truth on the altar of political or cultural expediency, stop loving, embrace cynicism, or lower our volume!