Three stories and a guide to creative prayerful response in moments of crisis
As the COVID-19 pandemic has plagued urban poor communities around the world, Servant Partners has responded in multiple ways. We have organized relief efforts around food insecurity and public health, formed communities of mutual care and support, and turned to foundational spiritual practices amid crisis—like intercessory prayer.
Immediately after the outbreak, our Member Care and Executive teams organized weekly intercession spaces for staff to uplift personal and community needs. As racial violence and economic inequity persist in brutal, visible ways, we have felt called to lean even further into prayer.
We invite you to read these stories of our field staff who have responded in crisis with prayer, and glean inspiration to respond in your own contexts.
East Los Angeles & Lincoln Heights, California
For marginalized communities in Los Angeles, the police department and city hall have often been “altars of pain,” says Chris Rattay, Servant Partners staff in Lincoln Heights. With a historic backdrop of police corruption and brutality against African American and Latino residents, the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis struck a painful chord for the people of Los Angeles.
For seven Saturdays, Chris and other staff and partners in East Los Angeles are gathering to form an hour-long wall of prayer around the Los Angeles Police Department headquarters, which is across the street from the Los Angeles City Hall.
“We are standing in prayer for healing, for repentance, for justice, and for righteousness,” Chris said. “We are asking Jesus to turn these places of pain into places of servanthood, healing, and justice.”
Before gathering at the police
department, they prayed at the site
of the Azusa Street Revival—a multiracial event which helped launch the worldwide Pentecostal movement in 1906 before being attacked and sidelined with racism. Chris and his group worshipped and prayed for God to finish the revival he started through repentance and unity.
South Los Angeles, California
“You shall not pass.”
These words, along with an image of Gandalf from “Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring” defiantly commanding the monster Balrog to halt in its steps, came to Jennifer Blue, Servant Partners staff in South Los Angeles, as she prayed. In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Jennifer and her husband Kevin began praying over their family, church, and community. When they received this image, they felt compelled to pray with a similar spirit against the effects of the pandemic.
“This image has often come to us as we have prayed and interceded for our church over recent years of spiritual attack and church conflict,” she reflected. “So in this moment of crisis, we felt stirred to pray and command the angel of death to not pass through our midst.”
After meeting with fellow staff members who shared the same image, Jennifer and Kevin began praying for protection over the parish and spiritual ground that God had called them to. She and Kevin took turns slowly driving the streets that marked the perimeter of their church parish. They worshipped in song, prayed in tongues, and commanded the angel of death to not pass through.
Jenna Hoover and Lisa Engdahl, Servant Partners staff in Pomona, went “prayer driving” around their city one evening after work. With a shared interest in environmental justice, they focused one of their prayer drives on “the land.” They drove by several parks and open spaces, praying for a multiplication of green space and environmental justice in the city.
“As we continued to drive around the city, we prayed for God’s continued transformation in our city—particularly in the ways that the land is being used, whether for learning at Cal Poly Pomona, creating community space out of vacant lots, or providing COVID-19 housing and testing sites at the LA County Fairplex,” Jenna said.
They also remembered the history of the land and repented for the ways the Tongva, the indigenous group who originally resided on the land now called Pomona, have been mistreated—despite faithfully stewarding the land for thousands of years.
“Driving through Pomona, I remembered the beauty of the city—as well as my continued longing for more of God’s kingdom to come here,” Jenna reflected. “Through the prayer drive, I remembered to hope and know that God will be exalted among the nations and in the earth [Psalms 46:10], including the land Pomona is on.”
We invite you to join us in praying for communities around the world by
praying for the neighborhood where God has placed you.
To join us in this spiritual discipline:
Define your ‘community’. Pray and discern with God where you could pray.
Pray over your parish or community. Move around the perimeter (walk, run, drive, bike,etc), of your community and pray. You can pray for protection, health, safety, and justice, for the Kingdom of God to come, and for neighbors to know the love of God.
Feel free to download the prayer graphic above as a reminder to pray.