Taking time for prayer

Published 10:22 pm Thursday, May 7, 2009

Several hundred people gathered together in prayer at the National Guard Armory on Thursday, one of thousands of locations nationwide where people of faith joined their hearts and lifted their voices to God.

But does prayer still matter?

Ask Sam Childers.

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As a teenager in Pennsylvania, he turned away from his upbringing, entered a world of drugs and alcohol, eventually joining the Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang and moving to Florida to deal drugs.

After marrying, he and his wife moved back to Pennsylvania and got involved in a local church. He told those attending the prayer breakfast on Thursday that one day God told him to go to Africa.

It was on the Dark Continent that Childers found his calling in life. What he saw in East Africa of the treatment of children — many of whom are orphaned and then horribly tortured and mutilated by members of The Lords Resistance Army — tore at his soul.

Today, Childers runs an orphanage, the Watoto Children’s Village, right in the midst of the region in Sudan that is ruled by the LRA and its warlord, Joseph Kony. Hundreds of children’s lives have been saved by the intervention of Childers and his team, the Angels of East Africa.

Prayer made a very real difference in Childers’ life and, by glorious extension, the lives of those children.

On Thursday, those who attended the Suffolk Leadership Prayer Breakfast were blessed with a performance from some of those children, the African Children’s Choir.

The smiles on the faces of those children as they sang and danced in praise to Jesus Christ were a clear indication of the power of prayer.

Thursday was the 58th annual observance of the National Day of Prayer, a movement that traces its roots back to 1775, when the Continental Congress “designated a time for prayer in forming a new nation.”

Despite the contrary secular claims of many in America, this nation was, indeed, built on a Christian foundation. And that foundation was held together with prayer.

In the midst of all of our nation’s problems, Americans would do well to honor that history today. A day of prayer is a good place to start.