For three years now, the Presidential Prayer Team (PPT), an Internet-driven effort launched a week after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, has been enlisting an estimated 3 million people to pray for President George W. Bush. The PPT also counts more than 520,000 intercessors praying for the 151,000 troops in Iraq.
On June 21, the Phoenix-based organization launched its latest initiative, "Pray the Vote." Offering resources through its website, organizers urge supporters to host regular prayer parties, concluding on election eve.
Another prayer ministry, Pray Across America, is scheduled to start on September 11. Organizers hope to hold prayer services for the nation's leaders and other issues in every state capital through September 11, 2005.
The PPT was funded initially by a wealthy backer identified by Time magazine as Arizona Diamondbacks owner Jerry Colangelo. But PPT President John Lind says small donors sustain its $1.5 million budget. The PPT has nine staffers and a network of consultants.
Since June 2002, John Moyer, who works at Pennsylvania's Army National Guard headquarters, has handed out more than 500 PPT decals and coffee mugs to deploying soldiers. He dismissed concerns that the PPT is a partisan effort to support the Republican President, a self-confessed born-again Christian who frequently mentions his gratitude for prayers.
"I think it's very appropriate," said Moyer, a chaplain's assistant on weekend training missions. "I think we need to be praying for the election. We could assume [God] wants President Bush re-elected-and I hope he would-but it may not be God's plan."
Critics, however, suspect an endeavor motivated by politics. A recent poll by George Barna said that 86 percent of evangelicals plan to vote for President Bush. The Bush campaign came under fire in June over a memo asking clergy members and other supporters to "identify 1,600 'Friendly Congregations' in Pennsylvania where voters friendly to President Bush might gather on a regular basis."
Jim Wallis thinks the PPT is dangerously close to a conservative political tool. Wallis, a registered Democrat, is an evangelical leader in the faith-based left.
"When prayer becomes politically partisan, it becomes a dangerous manipulation of prayer," said Wallis.
But Lind said he hopes "Pray the Vote" stimulates prayer for God's wisdom and encourages people to go to the polls.
"The focus is prayer," said Lind, formerly a consultant for Christian nonprofits. "That's what makes us nonpartisan."
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The Presidential Prayer Team's website has prayer requests, opportunities to adopt troops in prayer, and quotes on prayer from national figures.
Coverage elsewhere of the Presidential Prayer Team includes:
Inside the Presidential Prayer Team | The radio ad's announcer reads a list of famous Americans who gave their lives to Christ -- from founding father John Jay to former Harlem Globetrotter Meadowlark Lemon -- as fifes trill and drums roll in the background. "You too can be an American inspiration," the narrator concludes, "by joining the Presidential Prayer Team!" (Time, May 24, 2004)
Presidential Prayer Team leans right | If some president other than the incumbent is saying grace in the White House next January, the Presidential Prayer Team will take down its tent and use the poles for kindling for the long, cold months ahead. (John Young, The Dallas Morning News, June 25, 2004)
Other Christianity Today articles about praying for government include:
Weblog: A Nation at War—and on Its Knees | American Christians pray for peace, justice, and wisdom (March 21, 2003)
Prayer Warriors | E-Mail newsletters are helping hundreds of thousands to pray about the war. (April 28, 2003)
Are Prayers in a Time of War Really About Comfort? | In part. But their main purpose is about much, much more than that. (March 28, 2003)
Weapons of the Spirit | Regardless of their positions on Iraq, Christians have much they can do. (Feb. 25, 2003)
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