WASHINGTON – Pastor Bill Hybels told hundreds of fellow evangelicals gathered in Washington, D.C., Wednesday that he was praying a "Philippians 4-style" prayer to advocate for immigration reform.
"How should we pray?" asked Hybels, senior pastor at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Ill. Should his prayer be a "cover thou's backside" type of prayer, a "do what we tell You to do" prayer, or a Philippians 4 type of prayer?
The service, at Church of the Reformation just a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol in Washington, was part of an all-day event, billed as the "Evangelical Day of Prayer and Action for Immigration Reform," organized by the Evangelical Immigration Table that also included meetings with members of Congress. The worship music was led by OneVoice Gospel Choir of Cedarville University, Cedarville, Ohio.
A "cover thou's backside" prayer, Hybels preached, would sound like this: "Dear God, we're clueless what Your will is. Would You just please do whatever You're thinking of doing whenever You're thinking of getting around to doing it?"
The audience laughed as Hybels imitated a "do what we tell you to do" prayer: "God, You know and we know how this legislation needs to go down, so get on this God, get on it now. We demand it, we come at it humbly humbled in the name of Jesus."
Hybels said he prefers neither of those type of prayers, but a prayer in the style of Philippians 4, in which he is simply invited to present a request to God.
Verses four through seven of the fourth chapter of Paul's letter to the Philippians reads: "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (NIV).
Hybels remarked that he has been praying Philippians 4-style prayers for immigration reform for the past two years.
"God, my request is that your Church, the hope of the world, would rise up, and not only welcome strangers at our gates, but advocate passionately for their well-being," he prayed, "and God, my simple request is that lawmakers would do the job that they have been sent to this great city to do – to solve pressing problems, to weed out unfair practices, and, God, may this ongoing nightmare end very, very soon so everybody in this land can sleep the way you created us to sleep."
When he prays a Philippians 4-style prayer, Hybels said, he experiences a Phillipians-4 style result – "the peace of God that passes all human understanding rules and reigns in my heart."
Hybels closed his sermon, saying, "It's in God's hands now. And if I've learned anything in my life, it is that I can trust Him. May that be the style of our prayers and the results of our time here praying together."