The Prayer Connection

 Rev. John Bowden, Jr. and members of his congregation set out to pray for their community with the help of

Posted in , Aug 23, 2011

Rev. John Bowden, Jr., who joined with to pray for his community

I’ve been a minister for 16 years, but sometimes even I am sur­prised by the power of prayer.

I hadn’t been pastor long at Calvary Baptist Church, in Plain­field, New Jersey, when the recession hit and troubles in our community deep­ened—unemployment, gangs, drugs, broken families. Sunday after Sunday our congregation prayed, but things got worse. We had to do something bigger. I found out about This free service of Guideposts Outreach connects people who need prayer with volunteers. “May we pray for you?” they ask on their website. Could they ever!

I posted my request and saw they were looking for more volunteers. We could join in! Lemuel Blackett of Guide­posts visited our flock, and 25 people got trained to be volunteers. They’d help lead us in a citywide prayer vigil.

We put boxes outside our church to collect neighbors’ requests and posted them on One Saturday last July we gathered in a tent set up in our parking lot. Person after person rose, praying for peace and prosperity, for jobs and for an end to the violence and drugs plaguing our neighborhood. From the stage I could see gangbangers on the street staring at us. They strode into the tent. I tensed. Then they sat and bowed their heads. I knew beyond a doubt God was with us. By the end of the service all 500 seats were filled. I gave the benedic­tion to a chorus of “Amens.”

In the following weeks, violence dras­tically declined. Since I’ve been pastor at Calvary Baptist we’ve taken in over 250 new members. When I visit I’m reminded how God blesses us most when we’re praying for others.

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