Ed Grisamore

Groups believe in power of prayer

In the quiet of the morning and the rush of the afternoon, prayers are being said across Middle Georgia.

At night, when “knee-mail” is being delivered, heads are bowed, eyes are closed and hands are folded.

Some prayers are rehearsed, recited from pews and altars. Some are silent conversations of the heart, whispered in the solitude of porch swings and anxious moments of hospital waiting rooms.

Many in the church community are dedicated to praying in groups. There is strength in numbers. Intercessory prayer is an expression of solidarity with others.

“Although God always hears our prayers when we are alone, corporate prayer allows deeper and more powerful intercession,”said Chip Anderson, a member of Ingleside Baptist Church in Macon. “We are called to suffer with our sisters and brothers in our journeys, and we also rejoice with them as well.

“Nothing can bring peace to your soul as the prayers of others. Many times, during illnesses or losses, I have most assuredly sensed the prayers of Christians being lifted up on my behalf.’’

At Vineville United Methodist, a devoted group of about 15 church members meets every Thursday morning to pray for those in need. The prayer breakfast was started at Vineville in 1971.

A list of prayer concerns is maintained by Bill Shockley, a former church administrator and longtime member of the prayer breakfast group. Every person on the prayer list receives a copy of a prayer acknowledgment signed by the group.

“When people know others are praying for them, it enlarges the circle,” senior minister Jimmy Asbell Jr. said. “Those letters are meaningful. I have seen them in houses and hospital rooms.’’

Asbell said Vineville also has an intercessory prayer team that does not meet collectively but is actively engaged as prayer warriors.

The group is led by Katherine Johnson, whose father, Frederick Wilson, was pastor at Vineville Methodist for eight years in the 1960s and early 1970s.

Another group crochets prayer shawls and blankets. Asbell said he once met with a family to pray for a loved one in the final hours of the man’s life.

“That prayer blanket, made by someone in this church, was on his lap when he died,” he said.

In the fall, Vineville will be creating a dedicated prayer space near the chapel, Asbell said.

Linda Bivins, a retired Bibb County educator, is a member of the Chapel Hill Church of Christ off Rocky Creek Road. She said the church holds a special service on the last Wednesday night of every month dedicated to prayer concerns.

“People can come forward with prayer requests,”she said. “We call their names and petition God to help that individual. I believe God hears our prayers. It is powerful.’’

Bivins and her family were in special need of prayers in January. Her 8-year-old great-nephew was shot and killed when bullets were fired into an apartment in Fort Valley.

“I don’t know if I could have handled that situation without asking for the prayers of the church,”Bivins said. “Our family was going through a lot of pain.’’

Anderson has been involved with the annual National Day of Prayer service in Macon, which was held on May 7.

He also serves as a facilitator for “Here’s Life, Macon,” a group of about two dozen ministers who meet monthly for lunch to pray for the welfare of their churches and the community.

He calls it a “model of prayer, fellowship and encouragement.’’

“Many of us have gotten comfortable in our circles within the church,” he said. “But God has placed us in Macon, our ‘Jerusalem.’ Everyone can do something to serve others, even if it is only to sit and pray. Oftentimes, that is the most powerful thing anyone can do.’’

Contact Ed Grisamore at 744-4275 or egrisamore@macon.com