Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Intercessory Prayer Includes Being There; like Recent Clay County Case, People Believe Certain Sites Need God's Help

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Intercessory Prayer Includes Being There; like Recent Clay County Case, People Believe Certain Sites Need God's Help

Article excerpt

Byline: Jeff Brumley

Praying at church or home for an individual's or group's well-being is just fine, but sometimes it's more effective do it in person, some religious leaders say.

"There is something powerful about being on location and touching - it's about connectivity," said John Bornschein, vice chairman of the Colorado-based National Day of Prayer.

The urge to "be there" is one of the key features of what is termed by many Christians as "intercessory prayer." He said it is what inspired a Green Cove Springs preacher, Ron Baker, to lead morning prayers in front of Clay County schools for the past several years.

Baker's intercessory prayer sessions began making national headlines in October after one of the schools' principals sent his staff a memo that included a statement that the First Amendment applies only to Christians.

Threatened with legal action by the school district after its attorney determined the prayer sessions at the schools were unconstitutional, Baker on Thursday agreed to move his services from school flagpoles to adjacent properties at each school.

But the Baptist pastor said his goal was never to weigh in on the so-called culture wars but to offer prayers of protection and blessing for everyone connected to the local schools from students and teachers to bus drivers and crossing guards.

The goal was to ask God to provide "a shield of blessing and protection over the schools," Baker said Friday.

Bornschein and other observers report that interest in intercessory prayer is growing. In fact they refer to it as part of an ongoing "prayer movement" that's uniting Christians across denominational lines.

But they add that it's nothing new. While not mentioned by name in the Bible its characteristics - visiting places and people to ask God's protection and blessing over them - runs throughout the Scriptures.

Intercessory prayer "calls down and invites the Lord to have his influence in a situation" and is based on the belief that "the Lord is active in the affairs of men," said Bruce Assaf, a Brunswick-based Christian author who writes about America's and Israel's need for prayers of intercession. …

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