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Christians call for political, theological unity ahead of midterm elections at 'National Prayer Altar'

National Prayer Altar
Pastor James E. Ward and his wife, Shannon, invite attendees at the National Prayer Altar service at the Museum of the Bible in in Washington, D.C., to kneel and pray with them on Nov. 2, 2002. |

WASHINGTON — A Chicago pastor and his wife hosted the National Prayer Altar service this week, calling for Americans to set aside political or theological divides to unite before God as the midterm elections approach. 

The apolitical event, which took place at the Museum of the Bible on Wednesday night, featured various pastors and policy experts praying for God to heal the nation and recognize His power. 

The evening marked the second time the museum hosted the event, with the first one taking place in November 2020.

In addition to locals, individuals from states as far as Arizona, California and Texas also attended the service to pray and worship.

National Prayer Altar Director and INSIGHT Church Pastor James E. Ward Jr. highlighted the difficulties of maintaining a prayer movement during a time of tribalism impacting the nation and its churches.

The pastor said finding a place of unity and prayer "requires the grace of God." 

Aside from Jerusalem, Ward said the nation's capital is the most important city in the world. Citing 2 Samuel 24:25, the pastor described how David built an altar to the Lord on God's command, something the National Prayer Altar intends to do through the museum. 

Ward said David used the altar to offer prayers to the Lord, and the "plague was stopped." 

"I believe we need to build an altar to stand in covenant position to do business with God for the plague and the tragedy we're seeing in our nation today to be averted," he said, 

The Chicago pastor believes the church is winning many local battles but losing the "national war" and believes Christians must do the most "powerful thing they know," which is to pray in the most "powerful city." 

"We've come to boldly and prophetically declare that no matter who sits in the Oval Office, regardless of who controls the Senate or the House, ultimately, Jesus Christ is Lord of Washington, D.C., and He's Lord of the nations of the world," Ward said. 

One of the speakers at the event was Jay Johnston, the national prayer director and chaplain at the socially conservative activist organization Family Research Council. He invited everyone to offer prays of thanks to all individuals that hold a political office in the country. 

Johnston prayed for the United States executive branch, asking God to make himself known to any members of the office that do not know Him.

"Dear Lord, we do lift up President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill," he said. 

"Lord, as we ask that they call upon you and seek your face for every decision that is before them, Lord, we ask you to give them holy spirit-filled eyes to see and to understand the difference between good and evil, life and death."

Johnston also prayed for Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Douglas Emhoff, asking for her to take actions that would please God and not satisfy her desires.

Denise Cappuccio, chief financial officer for the social conservative public advocacy group Concerned Women for America, invited attendees to pray for families and children, both born and unborn. 

The speaker prayed for "Godly, Christian marriages" that would serve as an example of what such a union can look like.

Cappuccio revealed that she had been a single mother for many years and prayed for the Lord to invite "Godly men" into the lives of women experiencing the same struggle. She also prayed for the nation's children, voicing concerns about reports of schools promoting transgenderism and offering graphic content in libraries. 

"Lord, I pray for the Christian moms and dads, that they would be relentless, oh God, Lord, that they would rise up, oh God, that they would be a voice, God, and that they would say, 'Thus far, and no more,'" Cappuccio said. 

Shannon Bennett, chief marketing officer for the Museum of the Bible, believes the prayer event is consistent with why the building exists in the first place.

"For us, it's bringing everybody that loves the Bible together, whether we're Catholic or Protestant or charismatic, or Jewish, everybody that loves this book together to celebrate it," Bennett said in an interview with The Christian Post. 

"So it's everybody that loves the Lord, whatever string we're in and whatever background, whatever ethnicity, it's that message of unity that really just permeates this whole event." 

The museum's first National Prayer Altar event was on the day before the 2020 presidential election. Ward had a vision that God intended for him and his wife, Sharon, to hold such an event at the Museum of the Bible.

Due to COVID-19, the gathering was mostly limited to museum staff and the National Prayer Altar's crew. Many others participated in the event via a live stream.

Bennett said Pastor Ward handled the cost of using the space, while the museum relies on donor support to host it. 

In terms of future prayer events, Bennett said that the museum will continue to "facilitate" the pastor's vision and build community in the D.C. area. One of the ways the museum unites people is by building relationships with local prayer warriors, pastors and leaders.

"We hope just to expand on that, bringing more unity around prayer for our nation," Bennett said. 

Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: samantha.kamman@christianpost.com.

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