Massive 'Canopy of Prayer' to Cover New York

NEW YORK - One of the largest unchurched populations in America will be covered in a ''canopy of prayer'' Saturday when 5,000 Christians are expected to walk the grounds, sail the sea and fly the sky for the third annual “Pray New York!”

Prayer walk coordinators called it an "air, land, and sea invasion in the spirit realm.”

"We're going to put a spiritual perimeter around our city," said the Rev. Roger McPhail, Brooklyn borough coordinator and senior pastor of New Hope Fellowship, at an earlier meeting with local fellowship and church leaders.

With participation from 250 churches citywide, prayers of peace, fellowship, healing and salvation will hit nearly every zip code, if not all, throughout the five boroughs.

"We're going out there representing our King," commented Hans Wiesner, Staten Island borough coordinator. "It's about proclaiming, reclaiming [the city] for righteousness."

Thirty-three fellowships will traverse every zip code in Staten Island, according to Wiesner, who said this year's prayer walk is bigger and more strategic than ever.

This year's added dimension is what the prayer coordinators dubbed a "canopy of prayer."

The thousands of New York Christians have mapped out their prayer locations more strategically like a "military battle plan," as Wiesner put it, to cover every part of the city - bridges, college campuses, highways, government buildings, education facilities, marketplaces, the waters and the air.

Concerts of Prayer Greater New York, the coordinating organization for the annual prayer walk, had originally planned for four aircrafts, but reported three pilots to have fallen ill. One aircraft has been confirmed to cover over the city from above with prayers.

In the past two years, Pray New York walkers have met no protest or complaints for their public prayers. Business owners and others have instead gladly welcomed the prayers for God to bless them and their work.

"Not one person did not want to be prayed for or their community to be prayed for," noted Wiesner. "We're on the scene without making a scene. We're praying on site within site. We're going out there praying in the sensitivity and power of the spirit."

Prayers will begin Saturday morning and last throughout the day.

Along with the prayer support and outreach effort, Pray New York gives the involved churches a lesson of its own. Taking the church outside its walls, they get to see what's really happening in their community.

"Hopefully, they'll go back to the church and develop these outreach opportunities (i.e. health center, food pantry, etc.)," said Beverly Cook, COPGNY communications director.

Last year, prayer walkers worked in conjunction with the Greater New York Billy Graham Crusade, handing out invitations to attend what was thought to be the evangelist's last American crusade. Next year, COPGNY will work in coordination with the 150th anniversary of the Fulton Street Revival, strategically praying in preparation for the September 2007 event.