Prayer teams to blanket city

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 12, 2002

In his 25 years of ministry, the Rev. Daniel Martin has come to believe strongly in the power of prayer. He’s felt what prayer has done in his own life. He’s seen it at work in the lives of others.

Now he’s joining with other pastors and other Christian believers across this city and across the country to see if prayer can change even Selma, to see if prayer can accomplish what human effort has so often failed to achieve.

Martin is the pastor of Bethel Church. He’s one of literally hundreds of organizers and participants of Pray Selma!, an unprecedented effort to ask a divine blessing on an entire city.

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Prayer teams will be fanning out across the city today to send up what one participant likens to &uot;a wall of prayer.&uot; The teams are composed not only of local residents, but of intercessors who have traveled here from across the country specifically for the purpose of praying for Selma.

Other groups of believers will also be gathering today in cities from Montgomery, Tuscaloosa, Muscle Shoals, Huntsville, Charlotte, N.C., Atlanta, Natchez, Miss., Little Rock and Tallahassee to pray for Selma.

Dr. John Fain, pastor at First Baptist Church and another of the Pray Selma! organizers, explained, &uot;We’re praying for spiritual renewal, praying that God will just take over our city and change the hearts and minds of our people.&uot;

Added Martin, &uot;We wanted to appeal to God and see what God would do. We believe this is what we as a city need. We believe that what we have here is beyond human help. We believe that only God can give us the help we need.&uot;

Participants will be praying for racial harmony as well as for harmony within Selma’s families, for community leaders as well as for renewed economic prosperity. If that seems like a tall order, Fain insisted participants remain undaunted.

Teams will visit more than 60 designated locations across the city. But don’t look for crowds of chanting people blocking the sidewalk and attracting attention to themselves. For the most part, the teams will perform their assigned tasks anonymously and inconspicuously.

Fain cited the biblical injunction against praying loudly to impress one’s neighbors as the reason for Pray Selma’s low-key approach. &uot;The city will be covered in prayer,&uot; he emphasized. &uot;Not people, prayer.&uot;

The idea for Pray Selma! began to gel after Martin and the Rev. Ezekiel Pettway of Maggie Street Baptist Church returned recently from a pastors’ prayer summit in Montgomery in which the participants prayed for each other and for the cities in which they lived and ministered.

For Martin and Pettway, it was a powerful experience. The Rev. Darry Bradley, pastor at Spring Hill Baptist Church and another Pray Selma! organizer, recalled, &uot;When they came back from the prayer summit, they were just on fire!&uot;

The prayer summit was led by Doug Small, of International Renewal Ministries, who encouraged Martin and Pettway to organize a similar effort in Selma. They began to contact other ministers and gradually Pray Selma! was born.

Already, Fain said, participants have begun to see benefits from those efforts.

While many people in many cities have become involved, organizers emphasize that Pray Selma! is a local effort. Those who have agreed to come here to participate come at the request of local organizers.