Leaders of the Gulf Coast states have designated Sunday a day of prayer for the regions affected by the oil spill that has sent millions of gallons of crude gushing into the Gulf of Mexico for the last 66 days.
The governors of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, and the Lt. Governor of Florida issued proclamations this week calling their citizens to pray for a solution that stops the leak and for the recovery of the coastline and the fish and wildlife industries devastated by the April 20 BP oil rig explosion that killed 11 workers.
"Throughout our history, Alabamians have humbly turned to God to ask for His blessings and to hold us steady during times of struggle," Alabama Gov. Bob Riley stated in a proclamation issued Wednesday. "This is certainly one of those times."
Although there is no coordinated national effort to mobilize prayer Sunday, the Florida Family Policy Council (FFPC) and the national Family Research Council are urging their supporters to participate.Â
"I really want to encourage the church to not knee-jerk and think about this as some kind of environmental issue that they should not have any interest in," said FFPC President John Stemberger.
"This is clearly a stewardship issue," he said. "All Christians need to be concerned about this. We need to be praying for the families of the men who were killed in the explosion, be praying for the government and the private sector initiatives trying to stop this [leak]."
Cindy Jacobs, co-founder of the U.S. Reformation Prayer Network, said prayer efforts have been under way in the Gulf region since the April explosion that led to the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. "Our prayer network all along the Gulf is fervently praying," Jacobs said.
Jacobs, who is leading a separate prayer effort for the Gulf Coast June 30, said Bob Jones prophesied in 1997 that after healing evangelist Oral Roberts died there would be an oil spill off the coast of Louisiana, which would be followed by two hurricanes. Roberts died Dec. 15.
Since the Gulf oil spill, Jacobs' network has been praying that no hurricanes would hit the Atlantic Coast, which she said would be "an unbelievable disaster."
Jones wrote in an online message earlier this month that he believes only God can stop the leak. "There is no help for this nation apart from God," Jones wrote June 3. "We must cry out for God to plug the oil well in the Gulf for He's the only one that can do it! And He'll only do it when the church cries out."
In a conference call last week, prophetic minister Chuck Pierce of Glory of Zion Ministries agreed with that sentiment. "I really cannot see how we're going to move in and contain what's happening right now," said Pierce, adding that his father used to inspect oil rigs.
"Something's got to come deeper and stir the waters to cleanse the waters," he continued. "And I think God is saying that same word to us: You're going to have to have a deeper move in you as My people to cleanse in places that you have allowed an unclean spirit to come in and overtake you."
Gary Palmer, president of the Alabama Policy Institute, said Sunday's prayer effort grew out of a dream an area businessman had in which he saw people in prayer and Gov. Riley having issued a proclamation.
"He saw people gathered on the Gulf, and he felt this compelling that this is what we needed to do," Palmer said of the businessman, who asked to remain anonymous.
The man contacted Palmer, who then solicited help from WallBuilders founder David Barton, who drafted the prayer day proclamations for the governors to adapt.
Some churches have said there isn't enough time to organize corporate prayer Sunday, but Palmer said the prayer day is as much a call for churches to encourage people to intercede for the Gulf Coast. "It doesn't have to just be the 27th," he said. "We just need people to be aware that we're going to need some divine intervention."
Jacobs believes the oil spill is more than a natural disaster but partly the result of greed, debauchery on the beaches, poor environmental stewardship and a lack of U.S. support for Israel, all issues her network has been repenting of since the leak began.
"Whenever there's violent weather or some things like this, you have to ask if it's just a natural disaster or if you're reaping something that's been sown," she said. "We feel this is a cumulative thing."
Jacobs points particularly to President Obama's treatment of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he visited the White House in March. Netanyahu reportedly was scolded for proceeding with plans to build in disputed areas of east Jerusalem and denied a photo op, press conference and other trappings of visits from heads of state.
"We can't say that's all the reason why, but certainly I believe we need to come into some repentance," she said.
Jacobs notes that the last point of 2 Chronicles 7:14 is that if God's people pray, He will heal the land. "This is the same God that caused all the plagues of Egypt to go in a night," Jacobs said. "He's no different today. He can do what we cannot do in miraculous ways."
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