Participants in the Mayor's Prayer Breakfast stack their plates before hearing the address of Mel Blackaby, the senior pastor from the First Baptist Church of Jonesboro, Ga., Thursday morning.
ALBANY The heads of the religious, business and government sectors converged downtown Thursday to pray for the future of the city, state and country during the Mayor's annual prayer breakfast.
The event is a yearly convocation of leaders from area churches, various businesses, the city and county government and the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce.
Thursday's breakfast was headlined by Mel Blackaby, a blogger, author and the senior pastor from the First Baptist Church of Jonesboro, Ga., who said he could see God's work being done in the city, and urged those present to pray for those in leadership positions at the local, state and federal levels.
"Whether you agree with who is in office or not, you should be praying for our president and our vice president and our leaders," Blackaby said. "They have an enormous weight (to carry). If you've ever walked in D.C. you can just feel it. All the pressures of the world are in that place."
At times, Blackaby also punctuated his comments with fiery words about how modern-day American Christians should pray.
"In the midst of God disciplining our nation, are you still praying 'God bless America?'" Blackaby asked. "As America is running from God, are you simply asking for His blessing? Are you still praying, 'God bless my church, bless my family, bless me with good things? See if you truly saw what God was saying and God was doing, we'd fall down on our faces and cry out for mercy. God forgive us and have mercy upon us as a nation! Somehow we want to cover up everything that is going on and say, 'God bless me.' It's a self-centered prayer."
Blackaby said that politicians are unable to fix the problems plaguing the nation not for a lack of knowledge, but because they lack the power to dissuade God's discipline on the country.
"If the Church of God doesn't understand what it means to be a house of prayer, America doesn't stand a chance," he said. "Not because politicians can't fix it, but because they can't turn aside the hand of God's discipline."
Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard, who has continuously evoked the name of God during her political life, told those who attended the breakfast Thursday that she prays daily that God will show her the path to take to make the city better and to be a better person and urged the people to join her in praying that God will take the city under His arm and lead it forward in 2012.
"My simple prayer each day is that almighty God will allow me... that he will open my eyes that I might see. That he would cleanse my ears, that I might hear. That he might help my mind, that I might comprehend what it is that He would have me to do to move our city forward," Hubbard said. "I thank you all for coming out here today and for believing that God is working in me and in you to move our city forward."
Miles Espy, the newly-minted chair of the board for the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce opened the event by saying how grateful he was that he lived in a country and in a city where he and his fellow board members felt comfortable praying before vital decisions are made.
"It's a testament to the greatness of our nation that we can meet and, before we do our business, go to the Lord in prayer," Espy said.