286: In the midst of financial woes — let’s LIFT OUR CITIES IN PRAYER

ReadTheSpirit staff is regrouping for several projects we will launch
in the next few months. During these two weeks, we’re publishing a mix
of new articles and some earlier stories that are favorites with our

  TODAY, we’re sharing one of the most effective spiritual ideas we’ve been spreading this year: LIFT YOUR CITY IN PRAYER. We started this months ago, but we can’t think of a more urgent moment to spread this idea even further. HERE’s the story that is touching off a movement …

Yes, your prayer can help—wherever you live around the world!
    Your prayer can lift the depressed economic spirit of our world’s major cities and energize men and women to form healthier communities.

That’s what thousands of people affirmed, starting on Sunday August 24 in southeast Michigan, the epicenter of this global idea. Despite dark and stormy skies on September 14, that’s what 1,000 people prayerfully demonstrated in a jubilant rally along the historic Detroit Riverfront on September 14. People in the Motor City came up with this idea and want the world to know that, despite the sharp downturn in the American auto industry, Detroit is reviving through the spiritual creativity of its people. People put thousands of these yellow bumper stickers (shown above) on their vehicles to proclaim this faith.
    And we want you to know, IN YOUR PART OF THE WORLD, you can do this, as well. Here’s how:



    You can start whenever you feel moved by this spirit. In Michigan, the effort kicked off on August 24 and reached one crescendo on September 14. But the effort continues in many places across North America from Canada to the Florida Keys. Even in Michigan, the prayer books in which people wrote their prayers along the Detroit Riverfront now will travel to other congregations as seeds for further prayer.


    Pray in whatever words or tradition are comfortable to you. To keep this very simple, the Rev. Greg Barrette and his planning team at Renaissance Unity church in Michigan have written a 10-word prayer. It’s so short and clear in its spiritual appeal that they’re hoping people will feel comfortable including this single line somewhere in their sabbath prayers—and their daily prayers as well.
    IN SOUTHEAST MICHIGAN, the official prayer that Renaissance Unity is asking people to use is this:
    “Thank you God for lifting up the economy of Detroit.”
    BUT, we encourage people to adapt that prayer for your own big city, wherever you live. If you use this one-line prayer, though, you’ll be echoing what thousands of people will be praying on that kick-off day.


    It’s fine to adapt the basic prayer—or write your own prayer. The whole point, as envisioned by Barrette and his Unity network, is to form a sustained focus of prayer, inviting thousands of people to prayerfully focus on uplifting our major urban areas. Among the goals of this effort are reducing stress, unlocking creative energy and generating ideas for making a real difference in our communities.
    The Unity movement is an organization of congregations founded in the late 1880s in Missouri based on the teachings of Jesus and the healing power of prayer. By September 14, many Unity leaders across North America were helping to spread the news about this idea.
    One version of this prayer used in some Unity congregations is: “We live in an abundant universe. Expressing the wisdom of Spirit, we move into a new era of growth and prosperity. Infinite possibilities of good are open to us now.”
    But you don’t have to use those precise words. In Detroit on September 14, for example, a major Muslim leader in Michigan, Victor Begg, came and joined in the prayers as well. There were people from a whole array of religious groups on hand. So, feel free to adapt this idea in your own form of prayer or meditation—Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist or whatever it might be. Even if you’re a secularist, you might feel comfortable simply joining with others in a time of reflection on your city’s future.


    If possible, do this daily for 21 consecutive days.
    Renaissance Unity’s thousands of supporters reflected on this prayer for three full weeks before the September 14 rally along the Detroit Riverfront. Barrette asked his followers to actually write down the prayer 15 times a day. “Writing something down, over and over, focuses your energy and it engages all your senses as you reflect on the prayer,” Barrette said. “But, if you prefer to say it aloud, instead, or post it up on your bathroom mirror or pray in some other form — that’s fine, too.”
    Then, on Sunday September 14, a crowd estimated by the Detroit Free Press at 1,000 people gathered along the riverfront. It was one of the most unusual services of blessing ever conducted in that historic location. CLICK HERE TO READ OUR STORY ON THAT WONDERFULLY UPLIFTING EVENT.


    The most powerful lesson of “LIFT (YOUR CITY) IN PRAYER” is the proof it provides of the principles ReadTheSpirit embodies.
    Our core mission is “spiritual connection”—linking you as our readers with the important spiritual resources emerging around us all the time. We work with a broad array of writers, filmmakers, teachers and religious leaders as communicators and incubators of fresh ideas that will move powerfully across the new connections forming in media.

    We believe in “radical transparency” and we constantly repeat this essential idea: “It’s about connection, not competition.”
    So, when Greg contacted our Home Office months ago, our initial reaction was this: ReadTheSpirit is a global Web site and most of our readers don’t live in Michigan, but Greg’s idea of inviting people to join in prayer for their cities is a powerful example of how our new-media principles work.
    As Editor of ReadTheSpirit, I rolled up my sleeves and Greg and I burned up the Email wires going back and forth for a couple of weeks, shaping and fine-tuning this whole project. For example, Greg’s team originally had a slogan for the event that included far too many words. I sent him back this dramatically simplified line: “I Lift Detroit In Prayer.”
    Greg’s team was looking at a number of possible images and logos to promote this idea. One example was a small green plant emerging from a crack in an otherwise bleak urban sidewalk. That is, indeed, a powerful image, but it’s an image strongly associated with the movie, “Wall.E,” at the moment. I advised keeping the whole thing extremely simple and putting just the basic words on the bumper stickers and other visual media. We’re in such a confusing downpour of media messages these days, it takes a crystal clear message to cut through the daily “noise” in our lives.

     Greg had the idea of organizing a rally on the Detroit Riverfront, but after more than 20 years of covering religious rallies as a journalist, I urged him to keep the entire program as simple as possible. I urged him not to set up rows of chairs, not to invite dignitaries to speak, not to turn the focus of all this individual effort on the part of praying men and women into a focus on a podium at the river. Greg loved these ideas and sketched out an agenda that was so short and so potent that we found ourselves regularly interrupted by rolling waves of applause.
    In fact, in my 4-minute talk to the crowd on September 14, one thing I stressed was: “This event is not about what’s happening here,” I said, pointing at the microphone where I was standing. “This event is about what’s happening in your lives. You, the fellow up there in the last row holding your baby in your arms. And, you—yes, you in the back row there who’ve come so far to be here today. And you—”
    I pointed to various people in the crowd.
    Another one of our founding principles is: “The most powerful spiritual stories are in the lives of ordinary people we meet.” We believe that. Its truth was obvious in that rally.
    On the morning after the huge event in Detroit, Greg sent me an email that expressed his sincere thanks and added, “The location, slogan, format, logistics, all were yours. You helped us
immeasurably to avoid several pitfalls that we would have never have
seen without your help. If it was a success, and consequently blessed
many, it was largely due to your involvement. You opened doors for us
that would never have been available otherwise.”

    That’s true. It’s also true that the original idea came from Greg and his congregation and it was their tireless work that spread this idea virally though Unity networks. You can read more about Renaissance  Unity and the spiritual background of this idea in our Conversation With the Rev. Greg Barrett.

    But the single most important lesson is: The true power of “LIFT (YOUR CITY) IN PRAYER” is far larger than Greg or ReadTheSpirit. The power really lies in you—and your power, right now as you’re reading this story, to keep this spiritual movement going.

    We always invite you to TELL US WHAT YOU THINK. Please click the “Comment” link below this story to add your own
thoughts. Tell us especially if you plan to participate where you live!
    Not only do we welcome your notes, ideas, suggestions and personal
reflections — but our readers enjoy them as well. You also can Email ReadTheSpirit Editor David Crumm. We’re also reachable on Facebook, Digg, Amazon, GoodReads and some of
the other social-networking sites as well, if you’re part of those

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