522: A little city in Chicago’s shadow unites in prayer to reshape our world

You’ve probably never heard of Harvey, Illinois, until today. It’s a city in Cook County, Illinois, on the south side of Chicago.
    Yet, something that happened in Harvey is touching your life—if only because you’re reading this story today—and, now, what happened in Harvey is at least a tiny part of your life.
    This month, people in Harvey from many different congregations opened their doors, walked into the streets and spent an afternoon praying together for their community. They walked to various locations around the city together. They talked. They prayed. Children walked with adults. People smiled and laughed. They focused on their hopes, their connections, their faith.
    Some TV news cameras recorded their demonstration of the power of community prayer—so a whole lot more people saw their story unfold almost immediately.
    For months now, ReadTheSpirit has been encouraging new approaches to prayer for our communities. Check out our main Resource Page for the 2009 “Lift Your City in Prayer” effort.

TODAY, we’re sharing photos and insights from the people of Harvey, Illinois. We’ve told you a lot about the Detroit effort. And, if you visit our Resource Page, you’ll find links to inspiring stories and prayers related to cities in places as far flung as California, Bulgaria and Kenya.

HOW CLERGY IN HARVEY “PREACHED” THIS IDEA: Here’s a short excerpt from a sermon that the Rev. Rod Reinhart of St. Clement Episcopal Church in Havey preached to set the spiritual tone of this effort.
    “Churches do not make a neighborhood safe or holy—if all they do is sit there and pray and never get out and work together to make the neighborhood and the world safe and holy.
    “An individual person and an individual church that sits alone and prays for God to change the world might sit there until the end of the age and the world will never change.
    “However, a church that prays—and then rises up in the spirit of God to take action on their prayer—and then brings other churches and community leaders on board to work together with them—that church—in the grace and power of God—will change the world.”

HOW THE PEOPLE PRAYED: Here are excerpts from the many prayers raised in Harvey …

    Oh Lord, Our God, we pray for the City of Harvey. Bless our people and bless our leaders with courage, honesty and faith. Give us the courage to speak up about the pains that plague us. Give us the honesty to confess the weaknesses that keep us from taking action to change and renew our city. Give us the faith to know that we can renew our city if we work together in unity and in the grace and spirit of God.

    Oh Lord. Our God, we pray for the streets, the homes, and the families of our city. Protect us from the crime, drugs and gangs to plague so many cities. Empower our leaders and our police to take action against all corruption and crime that touches the people of Harvey and of Greater Chicago. Give us bold and valiant hearts as we act together to make our city safe in times of anxiety and fear. Give us strong backs and willing hands as we rise up to throw off the shackles of suffering, violence, bigotry, and crime that enslave so many people today. Bless the City of Harvey with new prosperity and hope. Let a New Harvey arise… a city on a Hill and a beacon to the nation.

Oh Lord, our God, we pray for the children of our city. Protect them from all the terrible suffering and crimes that touch so many lives today. Please bless our children and allow them to grow up safely in families that truly care for them. Allow them thrive in schools that effectively educate them. Allow them to find hope, and joy, justice and peace in our city and in our nation. Let all the families, organizations, churches, schools and structures that care for our children be filled with grace, professionalism, courage and faith so that our children may thrive, prosper, learn and grow. Let this city grow in grace, prosperity and hope so that the lives of our children will be blessed today and always.

Email us if you’ve got a prayer to share for a city you love. Or, tell us about how you’re using prayer to lift up communities.

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    (Originally published at https://readthespirit.com/)

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