Prayer in the public discourse

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A Sydney Prayer Breakfast reflection 

Is there a meaningful intersection between faith and the marketplace? This was the question I pondered as I attended my first Sydney Prayer Breakfast. The event—though it was my first—has been running since 2010 in Sydney, Australia. I saw a number of Adventists from Greater Sydney Conference also in attendance, from church members, other pastors and even students from some of our Adventist schools. 

It’s a primarily business-focused gathering that seeks to unite people in different spheres of corporate and faith life. This year, there were five areas of special focus:

1. the Indigenous Community

2. The Business Community

3. The Marginalised

4. Civic and Church Leaders

5. Youth and Education

Each prayer area was led by a thought leader, from Indigenous pastor Rob Knight to NSW Opposition leader Chris Minns. Each speaker prayed fervently for the area of their passion. I was particularly moved by Jacob Sarkodee, who prayed passionately for those oppressed in the Ukraine, Myanmar, as well as those who remain in slavery in south-east Asia. Deb Mcgill offered prayer for teenagers caught in the wake of COVID-19, exam stress, self-image and all the social pressures that come from going through high school.

The headline speaker for the morning was Peter Gibbs. Peter is a Gamillaroi man from Weilmoringle on the banks of the Culgoa River in far west NSW. He works with young Indigenous people to help them join the NSW Police Force. His talk was emotional from the start, as his current career trajectory was started by the tragic death of his sister in police custody 30 years ago. What began as a truly dark moment in his and his family’s life set him on a path to reconciliation, which is what he spent most of his time speaking about. I left his talk hopeful that the God who saved Peter can also bring healing and reconciliation between antagonistic people groups and power structures.

As I left the buzzing room of 1700 people, I reflected on the power of togetherness. Each person in the room represented a business, school, church or non-profit and the fact that we had gathered with a united purpose was powerful. Prayer is both a personal and collective activity; if you wish to reach out to God right now, you can. On the other hand, throughout the biblical story God seems to respond best when people gather en masse to pray, united in heart and mind. 

At Adventist Media, we take prayer seriously. It’s easy to become self-reliant in ministry. After all, there’s always something to do and deadlines to meet. However, it’s been my experience that when we stop to give God the space to do what only He can do, magnificent things happen.

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