In February I attended the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC. This was a remarkable experience. Since 1953, a group of members of Congress have met for prayer in the Spirit of Jesus of Nazareth. They gathered to pray for the nation and for the President of the United States. When President Eisenhower heard about the first gathering, he asked if he could come. The members of Congress agreed and held the first National Prayer Breakfast at the Washington Hilton. I attended the 61st gathering this year. The meeting featured over 3,000 guests from 160 countries around the world. Over a period of 3 days I met Ambassadors from Morocco, Croatia, Serbia, Japan; members of the parliament from the Bahamas, Russia, etc., as well as various cabinet level members of several other sovereign governments from other countries, including nations from the Middle East. I also had the privilege of meeting and praying with several US Senators and Members of the House of Representatives, several from Texas and other states.
One of the highlights of the week was a private gathering with Admiral Barry Black, the 62nd Chaplain of the US Senate. Admiral Black is the first US Navy Chaplain, the first African American, and the first 7th Day Adventist to ever serve in this role in the history of the US Senate. I first met Admiral Black when he spoke at my commencement ceremony for the PhD in Global Leadership at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. He was being honored with an honorary doctorate as an alumnus of Andrews. Of course, his commencement speech was spectacular, both content and delivery were amazing. I have met very few people in my life with such a deep and abiding focus on Jesus and the Holy Scriptures. Admiral Black gives me something to aspire, a Jesus centeredness that I admire.
Another highlight of the week was meeting Pastor Mark Batterson, Sr. and founding pastor of the National Community Church in Washington, DC. Pastor Mark made time to host me and a few Buckner staff in his coffee shop-office. We shared a cup of coffee and a conversation I will never forget. At the end of the conversation Pastor Mark invited us into his study and shared copies of his book Praying Circles. He also offered a book called Praying Circles Around Your Children. I just finished reading this book in the last week or so. This book is a very simple and easy to read guide about the importance of praying for your children through their lives. Wow! I felt like I have known what he was writing about yet, perhaps not in the dimensions or depth with which he wrote. Mark wrote with such practical insights and easy to follow practices from a Biblical perspective. He shared the power of God through prayer for him, his wife, and his children. I want to encourage you to get this book. Your children or your grandchildren are probably the most important people to you on the planet. Mark’s book will help you learn how to care for them in ways that will reach into the future, far beyond your life and far beyond your imagination.
I came away from the National Prayer Breakfast this year with a deeper and more profound interest in reinforcing my efforts in prayer; my own need to be anchored closer to Jesus; and to soak my mind more often in his word. I came away from DC less worried about the future of our country and more interested in praying for my President, members of Congress, and the United States of America. I realized that I have much catching up to do in my own prayer life, starting with my family and those in my circle of influence. I came away from DC considering how I might pray circles around Buckner, around those we serve, and around those I work with. I hope you will consider praying circles around Buckner and the vulnerable children, seniors, and families we serve.